Broken Bow Public Schools (BBPS) introduced members of the the media to renovation and building plans that are part of a $29.9 bond that will go before voters this Nov. 9, 2021.
Over the past several months, the school has hosted community meetings with interested community members to discuss the future of the facilities at BBPS. Areas in most need are performing arts, CT (Career Technology/woods/ metals/automotive), science and agriculture.
Asked how the $29.9 million price tag was arrived at, Jacob Sertich, AIA with Wilkins ADA of Kearney, said, “We were going through the planning process and took options to community groups. We had cost estimates for different options. We hired a construction manager who has prepared a very, very detailed estimate.”
Superintendent Tobey said the school looked at what number would be reasonable. “We looked at the tax levy. We felt 10 cents a year was something we could live with. It’s 11 cents overall.” He explained the public will see 16 cents on ballot. However, the bond for North Park Elementary, which will be paid off a few years early, will come off in December, 2023.
The proposed plan includes converting office space into classrooms as well as building new classroom. There would be a new gymnasium, a new performing art facility and shops for woods, metal and Ag/auto. The 1938 middle school building would be demolished, much of the current high school would be renovated and there would be new construction.
A single entrance would face south west towards the intersection of North C Street and North 9th Avenue. The new facility would be completed connected with no need for students, visitors or faculty to go outside between classes or activities.
Additional parking is also part of the plan. “We feel comfortable saying 80 new spaces will be created,” Tobey said.
Lack of space is top among the needs however, space, safety and security were all addressed. “We have a lot of kids interested in Career Technology and Ag but we don’t have the space,” Tobey said. “We can have eight kids at a time but more than that, safety becomes an issue.”
Tobey, board president Tom Osmond and board member Pam Holcomb all emphasized that they are not presenting a campaign for or against the bond. Rather, they are focused on getting information to the public. “We agreed to get information in everybody’s hands and tell you what we (the school) are struggling with. And give as much information as we can,” Tobey said.
Once of the concerns the board has wrestled with over the past several months is to renovate or to build. The concern, Tobey pointed out, is how much money to put into an old building that may need to come down later. According to information at the meeting, $10 million alone would be needed to keep current facilities but upgrade them to address code, safety and security issues.
BBPS population has increased 65 students over the past three years. “This year we have the most preschool students ever,” Tobey said. The middle school and high school (6th-12th) has about 450 students and PreK through 5th grade (at North Park) is about 460 students.
Holcomb said the new building would be an investment in education and the future. Regardless of the outcome of the election, she said, “The problems and issues aren’t going to go away…If it doesn’t pass, we cannot turn our heads and do nothing. That’s not why I m on the board, to do nothing.”
Osmond acknowledged that the cost is a concern however, he said, ““It’s just going to get more expensive the longer you wait.” He noted that the school board voted unanimously, 6-0, to bring the bond before the public.
A community tour of current facilities has been set for Tuesday, Oct. 19, at 5 p.m. beginning in the Middle School Auditorium.
Tours and public information meetings are scheduled for Wed. Oct. 27 with the tour at 6 p.m. and meting at 7 p.m. in the Middle School Auditorium and Mon., Nov. 1 with the tour at 5:30 p.m. and the meeting at 7 p.m. at the Cobblestone Hotel.
“This will give the public the opportunity to ask questions, Superintendent Darren Toby said.