Bond issue

A screenshot of Superintendent Greg Ebeling giving a presentation of the facility updates for the Pella Community School District on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.

PELLA — The Pella Community School District invited the public to attend a presentation on Wednesday highlighting facility updates as part of a potential bond issue on Nov. 2.

Superintendent Greg Ebeling explained the various updates planned for different parts of the school system, which would amount to $40 million.

“It’s certainly a challenge right now because construction costs are a little bit hard to predict, so we know there will be some construction cost challenges that probably a few years ago wouldn’t have been there,” Ebeling said.

The district first embarked on this project in 2018, with several of these project ideas being discussed during school board meetings.

“We’re really blessed that through the past 10 years, we’ve had several good improvements in the system and we want to continue to have that forward-thinking approach,” Ebeling said.

One of the projects is a new Early Childhood Center, which would approximately cost around $17,000,000.

The center will be adjacent to Madison Elementary and is designed to accommodate 3 and 4-year olds for both preschool and wrap-around care. The center will allow more classrooms for K-6th grade students.

According to the presentation, the center will consist of ten classrooms, each accommodating 16-20 students. The facility will also include a kitchen, playground, and additional parking.

The new Early Childhood Center will also allow parents to drop-off their younger children for the whole school day, as opposed to only half of the day.

The school’s most expensive upcoming project is expanding both Jefferson Intermediate School and Pella Middle School, which would amount to $19,000,000.

For the upcoming school year, the average number of students for the 7th-12th grade classes is over 200, according to Ebeling.

After completing a utilization study, Ebeling said Jefferson Intermediate School has the most direct need for additional classrooms and cafeteria expansion due to growth.

The study also pointed out how the Middle School building needs larger rooms for their music, art, and family consumer science classes.

The school district came to a solution where it will construct one large addition that connects the two facilities, providing a literal bridge for resources. The solution will help provide extra space for cafeteria expansion at Jefferson.

The proposed renovations for classroom expansion includes widening the choir rehearsal space of 150 students and the orchestra rehearsal space to accommodate ensembles of 50 students.

Art classroom expansion will incorporate both wet and dry labs while the family consumer science classroom will include sewing and food labs.

The project with the least amount of structural change is upgrading the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) in the high school. The approximate cost is around $8,000,000.

Both gymnasiums are proposed to receive new HVAC units, which they currently don’t have. The HVAC units in certain classrooms need to be replaced with newer ones as well.

The proposed upgrades will make the facility completely air-conditioned.

Last of all, the school district is proposing to improve various athletic projects, which will cost $7,000,000. This includes replacing the bleachers inside the athletic stadium and making the press box more accessible with an elevator and stairs.

They are proposing increasing the number of restrooms at the stadium and other athletic fields. They are also planning on creating new tennis courts on north Caldwell Park.

Elementary School Principal Rich Schulte is working towards gathering signatures of eligible voters to support the facility planning, which can be signed at the high school building. Only Pella residents who live within school district borders can sign the petition.

Construction will begin in Spring 2022 if approved.

Sarah Stortz can be reached at sstortz@oskyherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarah__stortz.

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