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USD 489 outlines enrollment projections




Hays USD 489 Board of Education members are considering a $100 million bond issue for the April ballot.

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Hays USD 489 Board of Education members are considering a $100 million bond issue for the April ballot.

If the bond passes, district officials plan to consolidate the number of elementary schools from five to two, closing Lincoln, O'Loughlin, Washington and Wilson. Roosevelt Elementary School would get an addition, and the current Hays Middle School repurposed into an elementary school.

Middle school students would move into Hays High, and a new high school built.

Much of the talk regarding need for such a project is based upon enrollment numbers, both current and projected.

There were 1,428 students in the elementary schools on Sept. 20, 587 in middle school and 784 in high school -- a total of 2,799 students.

In 2011, there were 2,865 students and 2,844 in 2010.

The district had 3,151 students in 2002, but the number declined after that before starting a modest increase in 2009. It's projected to be 3,013 in 2016, the year a new Hays High School likely would open if voters approve.

"We base a lot of our projections on the KASB projections," Superintendent Will Roth said. "They've had enough years of doing this, they get pretty good at it. Their projection would show us continuing to gain enrollment for the next five or six years. At that point it levels out a little bit, but it never starts down. ... The farther out you go the more inaccurate it is, (but) there are no negative trends in that projection as far as growth."

"Even though there's not (been) a lot of growth in the last 10 years, demand on classroom space has been growing because of special services that you provide that are mandated to happen in your school," Charles R. Smith, vice president of HTK Architects, said at Monday's work session.

Two elementary school site councils, Lincoln and Wilson, mentioned concern about class sizes in their annual report to the board.

The demand on classroom space in the architects' plan is based on 20 students per room for elementary schools, and 10 for special education classes. The special education classes might be English language learners or gifted students, said Zack Snethen, HTK project manager.

The middle school class size goal is 23, and high school is 25 students.

"To get to where you need to be, you're going to have to do expansions or (build) new buildings," Smith said.

While the target is 20 students in a classroom, they should plan for additional space.

"Because when you go past that and start growing and pushing towards 27 (students in classrooms) again, you got to have that room. You don't want to come back again in five, 10 years and tell people you're out of space," Smith said.

With about 250 students in each elementary grade, there could be 600 to 750 students at Roosevelt, and 600 to 700 at the repurposed Hays Middle School.

However, the board is considering moving grades five, six, seven and eight to the current Hays High.

Besides upgrades to mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, Roosevelt could get as many as 18 additional classrooms to accommodate grades K-4, and 28 total classrooms for grades K-5.

Architect estimates for 18 additional classrooms is $7,573,500. Ten more classrooms are estimated at $2,673,000.

The upgrade also would include a new cafeteria and kitchen, gym and expanded music room.

Total cost to renovate Roosevelt is estimated at $16,251,237.

If the current Hays Middle School is used for grades K-4, no additional classrooms, except those already in the planning stages, would be needed.

A metal structure built last summer added six classrooms and two restrooms for a cost of $752,600.

District officials also plan to add eight classrooms on the east side of the building paid in part by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Total estimated cost of that project is $2,779,464, with USD 489 paying $1,410,437.

Those additions were needed for the middle school after the board closed Kennedy Middle School.

No changes are listed for the Munjor building on any of the options. Munjor houses an Early Childhood Connections center based program with two classrooms.

"Our big classes are the elementary classes, and they continue to get bigger each year," Roth said. "We see nothing but positive indicators on growth."