PITTSBURG — Pittsburg Community Middle School has been the most contentious part of the district’s $67.6 million bond campaign, as it was in 1999 when voters rejected taking down the building and its historic façade.
Again, a ballot currently in the hands on voters calls to take down the old sections.
The decision at the middle school was made by a vision committee — approved by the school board — of roughly 32 people who are meant to be representative of community at large. B.J. Harris was a member of the committee.
“Ultimately, what the vision committee came up with at a 90 percent consensus was new construction would better meet the needs of the district,” Harris said.
Harris pointed to underlying problems that could arise if the committee chose to renovate. Plus, the lack of connectivity in the 1920 section and the overall decrepit conditions. He also pointed to a phone survey done by Patron Insight of 400 people in Pittsburg where 69 percent were “more likely to vote in favor” of tearing down the front section.
Superintendent of Schools Destry Brown said in the past there would have been opposition if the proposal called to leave the 1920 and 1937 section.
The current bond, now in the hands of roughly 12,000 registered voters within the district, was mailed to voters over the weekend. The postmarked ballots will need to be received by the county clerk no later than noon on Jan. 28. The district finds out the results later in that day.
The $67.6 million bond calls for construction at all six of the district’s schools. The middle school’s estimated project costs of $25.4 million has to second highest price tag – the high school is first with $29.5 million.
The proposal would rebuild the entire 1920 and 1937 section of the middle school. Troy Wade, client liaison with DLR Group, said pieces of the old facade could somehow be incorporated into the rebuild.
“It’s broken down,” Principal Terry Smith said about the 1920 section, adding only the first floor is used for classes.
The rebuild would move roughly 230 fifth graders from elementary schools around the district to the middle school, essentially freeing up an overcrowding problem, Brown said.
Brown said the additional students would require another custodian. The district would not need additional teachers.
Fifth and sixth graders would share the rebuilt space while seventh and eighth graders would use the 2004 section of the building. The 2004 and new section would be connected.
The new construction would build everything needed to run a school for fifth and sixth graders: Offices, classes, a cafeteria, auditorium, multipurpose storm shelter, locker rooms and an additional entryway.
“This is a nightmare out here in the morning and afternoon,” Smith said, referring to pickup and drop-off situation at the school.
Additional options for pickup and drop-off will be explored and are worked into the middle school figure, Wade said.
The proposal calls for additional parking and a playground in the front of the school as well.
There would also be some shared space such as a proposed new gymnasium, which would be larger than the current. The physical education area is one of the highest items, budgeted at $2.57 million.
Roughly $18 million in brick and mortar construction, the other roughly $7 million is for soft costs such as drawings and contingencies for any anomaly.
The new specs would be smaller than the current school, according to architect Kevin Greischar. But, the new building would allow all of the space to be used.
The bond would cost $11.81 for a home valued at $100,000. The term would be for 25 years. A business valued at $100,000 would cost owners $308.05 per year.
— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.