Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
The days of the current Washington Middle School seem to be numbered.
After reviewing survey results about how to proceed with the future of the middle school, the school board unanimously narrowed the proposals to two that do not include using the current middle school building.
“Overwhelmingly, a new building on a new site was at 48 percent,” Superintendent Willie Stone said. “The second overwhelming one (38 percent) was an addition to the current high school and renovation of the old part of the current high school.”
The third choice was full renovation of the current building at 11.8 percent. Only 6.2 supported a partial renovation of the old building.
Numbers were similar with the preferred second option, with 39.2 percent selecting a new addition to the high school and 31 percent selecting a new building on a new site.
“I think it’s pretty obvious which way we should go,” Stone said. “I would recommend to the board that those would be our two choices. The data is telling us that we have two ways to go.”
Stone noted that the two preferred choices offer different financial options.
The addition to the high school could be done by passing a $2.70 levy without having to raise property taxes.
“With the addition to the current high school, we can take that $2.70 (levy) and get everything done that we need to get done in order to get our kids there and do that for $20-$22 million,” Stone said. “That would be done in 2024 or 2025. In 2029, we roll off a sales tax bond that we could re-up as a revenue bond and do the rest of that building.”
A new building on a new site is estimated to cost $30-$32 million.
“In order for us to do that, we’ll have to run a $4.05 (levy),” Stone said, meaning a hike in property taxes.
With either choice, the current middle school building becomes expendable.
Stone said that in both options selected, demotion would be included if another use for the building cannot be found.
“That building is not going to be an eyesore for our town,” he said. “If we can’t get something done with it that is good for our community, then we’ll tear it down so it is good for our community.”
Over the next week or so, the architects and engineer will refine the two options.
Stone said he will put up a new survey on May 24 to get input on the two choices.
One question he plans to ask is, “If the one you choose isn’t the one that’s picked, will you still support moving forward for our kids?”
Another community meeting will be held the week of May 31, and the final option will be selected at the June 9 school board meeting.