The Wright City R-II school district’s projected increase in enrollment is leading to a proposal for the district to eventually utilize the current high school as a middle school and use the …
The Wright City R-II school district’s projected increase in enrollment is leading to a proposal for the district to eventually utilize the current high school as a middle school and use the current middle school as an additional elementary school.
The Wright City R-II Board of Education heard the proposal as part of the district’s proposed master plan, which will be considered by the board next month. Wright City R-II Superintendent Dr. Chris Berger stressed that even if the facilities master plan is approved, the items in the master plan will still require board approval.
“Anything you do in this master plan, it’s approved by a standalone agenda (item),” Berger said. “You approve the master plan, it doesn’t trigger all this stuff. When you approve the master plan, we’re not going to work on this. I mean we might get to work on it but we’re not doing that until we get board approval to do it. Obviously, we’ve got to do some front loading work.”
Berger stressed the plan provides guidance on how the district will address future capacity challenges. He said the early parts of the plan are more certain than the long range timelines. The plan will be revisited annually for course correction as new information is available, Berger said.
The district’s proposal in the master plan includes proceeding in fiscal year 2030 with renovating the current high school, which will no longer be in use at that time. The district plans to vacate the current high school and move into the new high school on Roelker Road in January 2025.
The proposal in the master plan is to utilize this building as a middle school. The current middle school would be utilized as another elementary school and preschool. Projections for the old high school renovation are $24 million and renovation of the current middle school to be used as an elementary school is $4.3 million. The district is expected to have $28.3 million available in bonding capacity in fiscal year 2030.
The $28.3 million number assumes the district proceeds with a no tax increase bond issue for construction of a performance gymnasium. The district’s plan would be to occupy the new gym in 2026-2027. Without the performance gym project, the district projects to have $35.8 million available in fiscal year 2030. The projections assume 5 percent growth in non-reassessment and 6 percent growth in reassessment through 2030 and 3.5 percent AV growth afterwards.
Berger stressed the plan was built from a fiscally conservative view.
“We felt it important to build a plan that addressed the capacity challenges but did so within fiscally conservative revenue projections,” Berger said.
The master plan proposes no tax increase bond issues for the new performance gymnasium in April 2025 and for the renovation of the current high school in the 2029-2030 fiscal year.
The plan also outlines a potential no tax increase bond issue in 2033-2034. They project to have over $21.8 million in bonding capacity at that time, based on the criteria they are utilizing for the projections.
Potential improvements outlined include phase two of Wright City High School, athletic turf for the Wright City athletic complex, performing arts and a FEMA storm shelter between West Elementary School and the current middle school facility.
The master plan does propose multiple changes from what the district outlined prior to district voters passing Propositions 1967 and 2025. One of the main changes is with the district’s plan to utilize the current high school building as a middle school. The initial plan called for the demolition of the east parts of the facility after the district moves to the new high school. After collecting more information since that time, the new plan calls for the renovation of the current high school building to be used as Wright City Middle School. They also plan to use the space as a community space and board room, as well as for preschool space as needed.
Berger noted the difference in new construction as a motive for recommending renovating the current high school. The projected cost of renovation in 2023 is $133 to $230 per square foot. The cost was $174 per square foot in 2021. The cost of new construction increased from $229 per square foot in 2021 to $362 per square foot in 2023.
“The problem is what happened in new construction from 2021 just to 2023,” Berger said. “Now that’s cooling a little bit, but that’s kind of our new reality. So that makes renovation back in play because as you can see, it’s not moved as much. So that’s the rationale for the change.”
The plan also calls for completion of the eight room addition at East Elementary. The district initially planned to add eight classrooms at East Elementary but reduced the number to four rooms during the initial phase of construction due to financial constraints.
The district also planned for full day Pre-K classrooms in the initial plan. The district will fulfill this through the Missouri Quality Pre-K grant this year. The grant adds two full-time classrooms, which will start Jan. 16.
Berger noted the administration anticipates needing more Pre-K classrooms in the future. The master plan proposed putting those classrooms at the current high school on a temporary basis.
“Ultimately, we desire to have all Pre-K classrooms in closer proximity to one another,” Berger said. “The master plan addresses that by bringing those classrooms back to the south wing of the current middle school in approximately 2030. That building is anticipated to be an elementary in 2030, and a Pre-K wing will compliment that use.”
The Wright City R-II Board of Education is expected to consider the proposed master plan at the January Board of Education meeting.