Voters in the Alcester-Hudson School District have cleared the way for a new junior high - high school.
This week, they approved a $7.3 million bond for the building. This means property tax will go up $1.50 for every $1,000 of assessed value. For someone who owns a $100,000 home, for example, that adds up $150 per year for the next 20 years. It only took one try to pass this, and the superintendent says there are a few reasons for the support.
The current high school itself has a lot of history. After 90 years, though, junior Kendra Jensen says the building is showing its age.
"More space would be nice to expand into. If you go around it feels super cramped," Jensen said.
That will change come 2019, when the new school is expected to open.
"Is there anything wrong with this high school? Physically? Structurally? No, but it's kind of like a car. You get to 350,000 miles on it -- at some point it's like -- do we look for something different or do we replace the alternator again?" Tim Rhead, Alcester-Hudson Superintendent, said.
Rhead says the district will get a lot of mileage out of a new building. At least 20 new classrooms, more office space and a cafetorium are in these plans.
"We're not looking to build the Taj Mahal. We're looking at what our kids need and being as smart financially as we can be to our taxpayers," Rhead said.
Workers will build the new school around the existing elementary building, down the road from the current high school. Essentially the plans call for adding on to the elementary school to create one big building. Having K-12 students at one site solves a potential safety issue. Right now, students at the high school walk nearly a half mile and cross a busy highway to get to PE class at the other school.
"This time of year, not such a big deal, but when harvest starts, you've got the trucks rolling through town and when winter...it's 10, 20 degrees below; walking across," Rhead said.
The district held four public meetings, and Rhead believes being transparent is why 67 percent of voters in Alcester and 66 percent in Hudson approved the bond. Rhead says there are discussions about preserving the old building, and turning it into something else. Apartments have been suggested. Workers are expected to break ground on the new building in the spring.
Jensen won't get to walk the hallways of the new school...
"I'm a little upset. It's the year after I graduate, so I'll never get to experience the new high school. I'm actually super excited we're getting a new school. It shows so much for the future of my school," Jensen said.
No matter how many memories exist in this old school, Jensen is glad school leaders and the community are stepping out of the box to give future students their own history.
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