By MAX FILBY
The Van Buren school board will vote today on whether to place a $29 million bond issue before voters to finance building improvements.
The bond issue would be the largest in the district’s history and would appear on the May 6 ballot if approved at tonight’s board meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. in the community room.
Money from the issue would go toward demolition of the older part of the high school and middle school building, and the construction of new classrooms and a new gym, said Superintendent Tim Myers. The money would also go toward improvements to heating and air conditioning in the district’s two schools.
“We’re starting to have a lot of physical problems with areas of the buildings,” Myers said.
The portion of the high school and middle school the district is seeking to tear down was built in 1918, making it almost 96 years old. Myers said the building’s chimneys and some floors are deteriorating, and the building has several leaks.
If the issue doesn’t pass in May, it will likely reappear on the November ballot, Myers said.
The new classrooms and gym are also needed because of the district’s steadily increasing enrollment, and to improve classroom technology,
“Education has changed,” Myers said. “I’d like to think that we can create better learning spaces for our students than we have now.”
All Van Buren students in grades four through 12 are given Netbook computers and the district is also taking advantage of online calamity days as ways to introduce technology into the classroom, Myers said.
Myers said the district’s enrollment is about 1,100 students.
“It’s not huge but I don’t believe it’s ever been that high before,” Myers said.
Overall, Myers said he’s received positive feedback from staff and community members on the possible project.
“It’s all been pretty good,” he said.
The district will likely hold further meetings and form a building committee, Myers said.
The last time the district asked the community for money was in 2000, to make renovations to the elementary school. Those renovations were completed in 2002.
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