Park Hill School District will not seek tax increase to fund bevy of potential projects

The Park Hill School District will seek approval of a $110 million no-tax-increase bond issue on the April 4, 2017 election ballot. 

The board of education approved the move at the Thursday, Dec. 8 regular board meeting. The bonds would fund construction of a new elementary school, a new middle school and an “innovation studio” for high school students, to alleviate overcrowding at both high schools.

Other projects on the slate include construction of a support services facility, maintenance work and other school improvements. Depending on economic conditions, it could also include building a transportation facility.

Coming in as the most expensive project, construction of a more than 100,000 square foot middle school could cost $34.4 million, at an estimated cost of $229 per square foot. A new elementary school could cost approximately $24 million for a 72,000 square foot facility. 

The high school center — which has been renamed LEAD Innovation Studio from the original proposed “innovation center” — is estimated to cost about $17.5 million. Standing for “lead,” “empower,” “aspire” and “dream,” the LEAD center concept was also unveiled at the Dec. 8 meeting by Dr. Jaime Dial, director of secondary education.

Planned improvements to existing district facilities, including improvements to Lakeview, Plaza and Congress middle schools, could cost about $2 million. Elementary and high school capital improvements, as needed by building, could cost about $4 million. District maintenance projects, including roof replacements, HVAC updates and additional routine work would cost an additional $7.5 million. 

Other projects include a potential $5.2 million transportation facility and $15.6 million for support services, such as operations and maintenance, food service and instructional resources. 

Last month, the board approved an architectural service contract with Hollis and Miller to design any upcoming capital projects. After issuing requests for qualifications last summer and narrowing down the field of nine respondents, the board authorized Cowherd to negotiate a contract with Hollis and Miller for services through 2019.

Also at the Dec. 8 meeting, board president Matt Pepper announced the district recently purchased two properties. 

One property is a 6.21-acre parcel at Northwest 56th Street and North Northwood Road, purchased for $136,500, next to the property the district purchased in August. The future middle school would be constructed on these properties. 

The other land purchase is 46 acres near Tiffany Springs Road and North Congress Avenue, at a cost of $1.9 million. The planned support services facility and possible transportation facility would be built here.

The purchase of properties to locate the future elementary school and high school innovation center are still pending. 

Dial’s report on the LEAD Innovation Studio further outlined the purposes of the center. Students from both high schools will attend LEAD to experience a full-day program where they will immerse themselves in a flexible, personalized learning environment, focused on problem-solving skills, project-based learning and professional experiences.