By Sandy Barnes
Even though the number of students in the Thompson School District is not increasing, Board of Education members are supporting plans to build a new elementary school. During their Wednesday, Jan. 21 meeting, school board members said it was necessary to honor a 2005 bond issue taxpayers approved for the Kincaid Street school in northwest Loveland.
Board of Education President Bill McCreary, who brought up the matter for discussion, proposed two other options to building a new school: reinvesting the bond or explaining to taxpayers that the need to build another school has not materialized and the money would be used to pay off other bond debt.
“I do believe growth is going to begin again,” said school board member Karen Stockley. “We’ve promised taxpayers a neighborhood school, and I think we should build it.” Stockley also pointed out that if construction of the school is postponed, the cost of building it will most likely increase in the future. “The cost of building a school is not going to go down,” she added.
School board member Lola Johnson also said she favored building a new school over taking a “band-aid approach” to school facility needs. “I think we owe it to the kids in the district and to the taxpayers,” she said.
Johnson and school board Vice President Marcia Venzke also said they believed growth would come to Loveland, making the school a necessity.
“The main thing for me is integrity,” said Venzke. “Because the bond language was so specific, I’m not sure why we’re voting on this,” she commented.
“Everybody likes a new building,” said member Dennis Breitbarth. “This new school gives us a lot of options and possibilities.”
“I actually have mixed feelings about the project,” said member Lucille Steiner. “My bigger concern is operating expenses,” she added. “Maybe a phased-in approach is a better one.”
A related issue to building a new school that Stockley addressed is a recent state school board directive increasing the requirement for student space from 30 to 35 square feet in elementary schools.
During the meeting, school board members also learned about the Loveland Area Integrated School of the Arts program, which began in 2007 at Garfield Elementary, Bill Reed Middle and Mountain View High schools and reviewed a master plan capacity report.
The Board of Education also approved contracts with Dohn Construction for $595,000 to complete construction of the special education project at Van Buren Elementary and to Clark Construction for $822,000 to complete an early childhood education project at Monroe Elementary. A revised contract for $127,918 with Hewlett Packard Corporation for 142 desktop computers also received approval by the board.
During his remarks, Thompson District School Superintendent Dr. Ron Cabrera expressed his condolences for the death of Staff Sgt. Justin Bauer of Berthoud.