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Sunnyside schools seek elbow room

Bond,, new construction being considered

— A possible construction bond, new ball fields and high school expansion will be on the table Wednesday during a public forum.

The community meeting is 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Community Center, 1521 S. First St.

The forum will have three discussion points; the city’s presentation of its summer youth programs, information on the school district’s summer meals program and future school facility needs tied to enrollment projections.

“I’ll provide a brief description, then turn it over for questions,” Supt. Kevin McKay said of seeking public input on the district’s growth.

The problem involves higher-than-expected enrollment in the elementary grades, McKay has said.

Sunnyside High School currently averages 400 students for each of its four grades.

That will increase to 500 per grade within three to five years, McKay estimates.

And the district’s athletic facilities need upgrades to meet demand.

The School Board on Monday met with Loofburrow Wetch Architects to sketch out what future facilities might look like.

“We’ve thrown around the idea of the need, we needed to see what it might look like on paper,” McKay said.

The result is options that are all under consideration.

They range from adding athletic fields and a track on land the district owns on Lincoln Avenue to constructing a two-story classroom building on the current high school site.

And there are ideas for more parking to meet the high school’s anticipated growth.

As for expanding sports facilities, McKay said it could be potentially a win for all.

“We look at it as it would be for the high school, middle school and the community,” he said. “If you put a stadium there with a track around it… that’s a lot of opportunities for people to enjoy.”

The two-story classroom building under consideration would be built south of a two-story classroom building constructed in 2012.

It would be about 20,000 square feet and hold up to 20 classrooms, McKay said.

The 2012 addition was part of a $31 million expansion project for the high school. Yet, just five years later, the school is at maximum capacity, McKay said.

After the community forum next Wednesday, McKay said the district will take those comments and develop “some kind of design” for the public to review during a special board meeting on May 25.

“There’s a big difference between talking about it and seeing a design,” he said.

The clock is ticking if the board wants to place a bond on this November’s general election ballot.

“If we want to move this to November we need a resolution by the July board meeting,” McKay said.

The board will likely make a decision in June whether to go forward with a resolution in July for a bond on the November ballot.

The district does not yet have a specific dollar figure in mind, McKay said.

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