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Meeting planned over high school renovations

Annexation, new cities Decatur

Meeting planned over high school renovations

The front steps of Decatur High School. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
The front steps of Decatur High School. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The front steps of Decatur High School. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

City Schools of Decatur wants the public’s input about its plan to add classrooms to its increasingly crowded high school.

There will be a master plan community forum at Decatur High at 6:30 pm, Monday Nov. 3.

According to a consultant’s power point presentation School Board on Oct. 29, CSD is considering four site plans for expanding the high school. They range cost from $55 million to $61 million. CSD anticipates a 223 percent enrollment growth, from 1080 students to 2,409 students, if the city annexes more property. The presentation doesn’t give a date for when the city schools will hit that enrollment number. An earlier presentation about Renfroe Middle’s master plan projects a 137 enrollment increase by 2018.

On Saturday, Nov. 1, CSD and the city of Decatur released a joint-statement about annexation’s impact on enrollment. The city predicts that enrollment will increase by 3,000 students without annexation

The message from CSD and Decatur says, “If the areas that are currently included in the draft annexation master plan are annexed, there will be an addition of approximately 580 more students by 2020.”

Also, staff and consultant teams involved in the master planning process are working to identify areas where CSD could open up another school building, according to the statement released on Saturday.

“City Schools have already identified that an additional school facility will likely be needed without any annexation,” the joint statement from CSD and Decatur says. “Regretfully, that poses an extreme challenge within the existing city limits where even if there were six to 10 available acres of land, the going price is at, or above, $1 million an acre. Part of the analysis of the draft 2014 annexation master plan is to identify possibilities for public facilities, including potential school sites.”

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All four of the plans would remove the community garden at the corner of West Howard and Commerce, replacing it with a parking lot or another building, depending on the rendering.

CSD borrowed $18 million in certificates of participation money, referred to as COPS, to pay for the projects at Decatur High and Renfroe Middle. The school districts plans anticipate additional sources of money to pay for the expansions. CSD would use money from a general obligation bond in 2015 and a special purpose local option sales tax in 2018, both of which would need to be approved by voters.

This is the presentation to the school board on Oct. 29:

2014.10.29 DHS BOE presentation