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Lennox School District to bring bond issue to vote May 9

The Lennox School District will host two public information meetings regarding the bond for the proposed building project:

• April 20, 2023

• May 04, 2023

Both meetings will be held in the Lennox High School cafetorium and begin at 7 p.m.

The Lennox School District is bringing a bond forward to the public to vote on which would help accommodate the continued growth of the district. The bond would fund an approximately $17.3 million project that would add an auxiliary gym, a larger weight room, two additional varsity locker rooms, a performing arts center, and a new designated activities lobby. It would also include remodeling the kitchen and cafetorium to accommodate two serving lines.

In February 2022, Architecture Incorporated was granted a professional service contract by the Lennox School Board to assess the junior high and high school facility, which was constructed in 2003 to accommodate 500 students. In 2014, a junior high wing was added to meet the district’s growth needs, with a capacity of 200 students. The junior high was inaugurated in 2015-2016 with 140 students in grades seven and eight, bringing the total population of the school to 427 students.

Now, seven years later, the student population of the combined junior high and high school has grown to 546, a rise of 119 students from the 2015-2016 academic year. Although there is still enough classroom space, the study highlighted issues with shared spaces like the cafetorium, gym, and weightroom due to increased demand. Architecture Incorporated completed a conceptual drawing and cost estimate for the school board.

The new proposed building project includes remodeling the kitchen and cafetorium areas to accommodate two serving lines, adding an auxiliary gym with 500 seats, adding a larger weight room, adding two additional varsity locker rooms, adding a performing arts center with up to 900 seats, and adding a new designated activities lobby.

The kitchen remodel will create two lines of service, speeding up the amount of time kids are in line waiting for lunch. Currently six lunches operate between the hours of 10:40 a.m. and 1 p.m. Two lines would create flexibility in the schedule and allow for quicker serving times.

The addition of an auxiliary gym would allow the District to have more flexibility in the current schedule for physical education classes between high school and junior high classes. In adding the auxiliary gym, the district could also run multiple games at home, which would also increase the need for additional locker rooms, something this proposed plan would also include.

The performing arts center would have between 800 and 900 seats. This addition would alleviate the need for the shared space of lunchroom and performing arts, currently called the cafetorium. This addition would not only open up the current cafetorium for additional lunchroom tables, it would also give a dedicated space for band, choir, plays and other concerts, something that is lacking in the current configuration.

At the March board meeting, several people spoke in favor of the performing arts center. At the meeting Gunnar Geiken, Lennox High School junior who is currently active in band, debate and tennis spoke on why he would love to see the PAC proposal move forward.

“I think it would be great for our school and community,” Geiken said. Geiken felt the PAC proposal would allow fine arts students to feel more respected and give the District a chance to host debate tournaments and more.

Ellie Kenkel, junior high band director, also spoke in favor of the project.

“This would be a very visual representation of the District supporting fine arts,” Kenkel said. She felt it would benefit both the students and audience who attend band, choral and drama events.

Tyler Youngquist, LHS band director, also expressed why he felt there is a need for the Performing Arts Center.

“Our current spaces to perform are the cafeotorium and gym, which are both not acoustically designed for the performances we want to give,” said Youngquist.

LHS drama director, Kristi Sayler, was also in attendance to speak on the importance of the PAC proposal.

“I’m all on board for a Performing Arts Center,” said Sayler, “We did a musical last year and it was so much fun but sound was an issue.”

Sayler shared that the current stage is about 7-9 feet smaller than that of an average stage, the dressing rooms only hold two people and there is virtually no storage. Sayler said the current setup may have fit the need at the time but as the program has grown so has the need for a more adequate facility.

Performing arts centers are be coming more relevant in today’s public-school systems. In this region alone, Canton, Harrisburg, Brandon Valley, and Sioux Falls all have them and plans are currently underway in Tea to add one to their school system.

The larger weight room proposal is to create more efficiency in moving students through their workouts. The District believes the increased space would also allow for more comprehensive training programs.

These proposed project will require the passage of a bond, and a 60% majority vote in favor of issuing the bonds at an election. The election is set for Tuesday, May 9. The tax levy for the bond would be $1.18 PER $1,000 of valuation on a 20-year General Obligation Bond or $1.01 PER $1,000 of valuation on a 25-year General Obligation Bond. For a home with an assessed value of $300,000 the annual bond amount would be $354 or $29.50 month on the 20 year bond or $303 ($25.25 a month) on a 25 year bond. The current bond passed in 2003 to pay for the construction of the high school will be paid in full in July 2023.

The cost estimate for this project is $17,260,000 which is broken down in the following way: the auxiliary gym, fitness center, and locker rooms will cost $8,500,000; a 900-seat performing arts center will cost $8,600,000 (there is an 800-seat option that would reduce the cost by $200,000); and the kitchen remodel which would cost $160,000.

Should the bond pass, Architecture Incorporated will immediately begin work on engineered drawings and bid documents to be finished on or around October 2023. The District anticipates receiving bids back and awarding the project on or around December of 2023 with construction of the project tentatively starting in April of 2024 with a completion date on or around May of 2025.

If the bond does not pass, the district will utilize available funds to remodel the kitchen to accommodate two serving lines. All other proposed aspects of this project would be put on hold for future evaluation.


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