Wright City School District refines new facility plan, includes elementary growth

Derrick Forsythe, Correspondent
Posted 11/5/21

The expansion plan to accommodate its growing enrollment continues to evolve for the Wright City R-II School District. An update concerning finances and a shift to address capacity at the elementary …

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Wright City School District refines new facility plan, includes elementary growth

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The expansion plan to accommodate its growing enrollment continues to evolve for the Wright City R-II School District. An update concerning finances and a shift to address capacity at the elementary level was addressed during a school board meeting on Oct. 21.

The initial plan involved moving the high school academic housing to a new building to be constructed along Highway F south of Wright City. A more detailed look at the existing resources and needs of the district has resulted in adjustments to the plan over the past several months.

The most recent and significant change was the addition of eight more classrooms to East Elementary.

“The plan continues to develop,” said Superintendent Dr. Chris Berger. “East is very near capacity as a result of the growth we’ve experienced historically over the last 10 years.”

It’s anticipated that growth may continue given the trend of the housing market in the district.

“We’re very concerned about being proactive about that building’s growth, rather than reactive,” said Berger. “What we’re trying to avoid is bringing in mobile buildings that wouldn’t serve us as a permanent solution.”

Part of the development plan includes repurposing the current high school. Among the intentions for that space is moving the administrative central office there, opening up room for the early childhood program to expand into a second building adjacent to its existing location.

“This would allow us to double the capacity of our preschools,” said Berger. “We plan as part of our pre-K expansion to offer what’s called transitional kindergarten for students really close to the cutoff age of kindergarten.”

In addition to the physical changes to the plan, funding possibilities were also laid out by Stifel Advisors. The district has been gauging the community’s feedback as it relates to a no-tax-increase bond to potentially hit the ballot in April of 2022.

“As I've met with a variety of groups in the community, everybody is receptive to the plan, which is no surprise, because it involves no tax increase,” said Berger. “We’re capped at $35 million, which unfortunately does not get us a new school with all the facilities that a new school might typically have.”

Stifel presented a possible alternative to the board that could allow additional funding for the necessary construction to be completed.

“Due to our rapidly increasing assessed valuation in Warren County, what’s on the board for consideration is doing a tax transfer,” said Berger. “We would still get $35 million in general obligation bonds, but lower that debt service in operations to go get another up to $15 million in lease purchase certificates.”

While this is a new proposal, it still would not involve any tax increase for the public.

“The bottom line is the board is not considering any issue that would cause a tax increase,” assured Berger.

The school board plans to revisit this discussion during its November board meeting.

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