Tea Area School Board members paid close attention to suggestions given Tuesday night about how to get a nearly $10 million expansion project underway. Plans for a new elementary school, an elementary school addition and a performing arts center have been rejected at the polls twice.
"I'm a huge advocate for the performing arts, I think that's very important. The thing that I have the biggest heartburn over is the stick buildings at the elementary. So, that has to be a major focus," Superintendent Jennifer Lowery said.
That focus could lead to the district splitting up the plan and presenting the projects separately to voters. Not everyone agrees with that approach.
"I think our kids in Tea deserve the whole package. I think that it's not a need versus a want, I feel that it's a need and a need," Kristen Dagget said.
A big sticking point in the previous bond votes has been the inclusion of the performing arts center, which makes up just over half the estimated cost for the full project. While some voters want the expansion to happen, not including the performing arts center could make their decision easier.
"My only concern in talking with a lot of different parents about this, my only concern is the amount of time then that the building would sit vacant. Call it vacant, I don't know what you want to call it, but that would be my one concern," Tyler Turek said.
The performing arts center is something board members really want to see, but they're willing to compromise if it means seeing the other parts of the project succeed.
"The addition in Tea and the north Elementary, both components. We need both of those components to achieve our classroom goal and get everybody where we need to be. It doesn't do us any good to necessarily do one or the other," Tea Area School Board President John Herr said.
The board will hold one more listening session next week, March 25th, during their regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the District Education Center. At the meeting, board members also plan on having a clearer picture of what voters will see on the next bond vote in May.