Simplified: Tea Area voters will get to decide whether the school district should take out a $39 million bond to build an addition to the existing high school to help accommodate the fast-growing number of students.
Why it matters
- Tea is one of the fastest-growing school districts in the state. It started with about 700 students in 2003, and today it has more than 2,100.
- That growth isn't showing any signs of slowing. Superintendent Jennifer Nebelsick Lowery projects the district will see another nearly 950 kids by 2026.
- The district has built 78 elementary school classrooms in the last decade. As those kids now near high school, the existing building – which is already at capacity – doesn't have room for them.
"The difference between our graduating class and our kindergarten class is where a lot of our growth is," Lowery said.
So, what are voters deciding?
Voters will vote yes or no on whether to let the Tea Area School District spend up to $39 million over the course of the bond.
- The district estimates the project will cost $28 million in total.
The bond election got the go-ahead from Tea school board members Monday night, officially putting it on the ballot for the June 21 school district election. (Also on that ballot will be an open school board seat.)
If approved, it'll fund:
- 20+ new classrooms,
- a Commons addition,
- a fine arts wing with a performing arts center,
- renovations of the existing building,
- and an auxiliary gym.
And if the bond doesn't pass?
"There truly is not an alternative," Board President Kristen Daggett said. "The growth is here. Everywhere you look there are new roofs. Those roofs have students. The students need space to learn and grow."
What about growth at the elementary and middle school level?
The district has plans in place to accommodate growth there, too.
Lowery shared plans to build a new $15.6 million elementary school on the north side of town on land purchased last year.
- If the school board agrees, that plan will also go before voters for final approval, likely not until 2024.
The final phase of the plan is to retrofit Legacy Elementary to become an intermediate school for grades 5-6 to create more space in the existing middle school for the growing student population.
- That won't happen until after the new elementary is constructed, Lowery said, likely in 2026.
What happens next?
It's all in the voters' hands. The bond election will take place June 21, and if approved the project will go into the design phase.
Lowery said the plan would be to go to bid later this year with the addition completed and open in the fall of 2024.