By MAX FILBY
Van Buren school board is looking to expand the district’s campus.
The district is seeking to purchase five properties adjacent to its schools so it can build additions to the high school and middle school.
Superintendent Tim Myers said he hopes to have agreements for the purchase of at least two of those five houses ready for approval at tonight’s 7 p.m. board meeting.
“I’m very happy that it appears we may have reached an agreement,” Myers said Wednesday. “We want to be working with our neighbors in this situation and I’m very pleased with it.”
The two properties the district is close to purchasing are located on Main Street and Maple Street. Myers said he could not recall the exact addresses of the houses, and declined to provide the price the district will pay until the agreements are final.
“I have been negotiating with the owners for a while now,” Myers said.
Myers said he hopes the district can still secure deals with the three other property owners, but said failure to do so would not block construction plans.
“It’ll be fine, we would still have a quality facility,” he said. “We would build around it.”
In January, Van Buren school board approved putting a $29 million levy proposal on the May 6 ballot.
If voters approve the 37-year, 6.9-mill package, it would pay for construction of new classrooms and a gym at the middle school and high school.
The district is not eligible for state funding for the project because its property valuation is too high for the number of students enrolled, according to the state.
If the bond issue doesn’t pass in May, it will likely reappear on the November ballot, Myers said.
“We’re very hopeful that the community will understand our needs,” Myers said.
The new classrooms and gym would replace an existing portion of the school that was built in 1918, making it almost 96 years old. The project would also include improvements to the heating and air conditioning systems in both of Van Buren’s schools.
“We’re starting to have a lot of physical problems with areas of the buildings,” Myers said. The building’s chimneys and floors are deteriorating, and the building has leaks.
Myers said the additions also are needed to accommodate technology and increasing enrollment. The school has about 1,100 students enrolled, Myers said.
“It’s not huge but I don’t believe it’s ever been that high before,” Myers said.
The district previously asked the community for money in 2000 to make renovations to the elementary school. Those renovations were completed in 2002.
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