The De Smet School is holding an elementary building project/bond referendum election on Tues., June 21 at the high school community room from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. The district's registered voters are eligible to vote.
A new school building is needed to provide a safe, accessible learning environment with adequate restrooms and climate control. The current elementary school was built in the 1960s, and it would cost around $7.4 million to fully repair and remodel it. Building a new elementary wing on the west end of the high school/middle school would cost an estimated $9 million. Having all students in one building would provide continuous cost savings.
There are several plumbing issues with the current building. The preschool/gym bathrooms are currently closed, water fountains need to be repaired, kitchen plumbing is dilapidated and the lines are at risk of collapsing.
Heating is difficult to regulate in the school, and there are many energy inefficiencies. Also, only a limited number of electrical outlets are available for all of the technology needed.
The current elementary school is not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). There are multiple ramps not in compliance with the ADA and Fire Marshall. The width of the classroom doors is not compliant, and because they are load-bearing walls, it would be difficult to renovate.
For security purposes, school offices should be located at the front of the building, but they currently are not. The school also needs a secured entrance for visitors and to protect from intruders.
The shared areas of the cafeteria, library, music and technology will save money. The district would also be able to share staff for further savings.
Another benefit would be easy access for mentoring programs/Big Brother-Big Sister program with the younger and older students.
The school board will need to prioritize which limited improvements can be made within their existing budget.
It’s undecided at this time, but some ideas are selling it, keeping the gym space, or renovating it into a CTE (Career Tech Ed) center with grant money.
Absentee ballots are available now at the De Smet High School office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. until election day.
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