Remember interim’s School Superintendent Schiller’s February 2017 advice to build a single-phase high school for $ 60 million?
What if we followed his advice?
Let’s say he was off and it would cost $ 70 million. And, let’s not build a school for 1,500 students like he suggested, but a smaller school for 1,350 students. Also, don’t build an expensive 5 story school. Build a cheaper-style 2 story school that we can expand upon.
Q: What are the advantages of this approach?
A1. We save $ 50 million dollars and borrow $ 50 million less.
A2. We can afford to keep the 10 acres of green space at GMHS.
A3. We don’t have the 964 new apartments that are planned for those 10 acres. That means we have 150 less future students, according to City projections. That means we don’t need a school for 1,500 students, but a smaller and less expensive one for 1,350 students.
Q. But we don’t get the proceeds from the sale of the 10 acres?
A. Right, we forgo those $ 40 million dollars, but we save $ 50 million on construction and preserve ownership of a great asset – 10 acres of green space. That $ 40 million would be used to pay for only about 5 years of our 30 year debt service. Once you concrete those 10 acres, they are gone for good.
Q. But we don’t get $ 3.1 million in net revenue from development of those 10 acres?
A. Yes, but our debt repayment is about that much less each year with the $ 70 million versus the $120 million school. And, keep in mind two things about the $ 3.1 million. First, under the City plan with the expensive school, we don’t see that for revenue for 10 years. Also, there is no guarantee of any net revenue at all. If more than 150 school kids move into the 964 new apartments at GMHS, the revenue is reduced. At 300 kids, the project is neutral and at 450 kids, the development ends up costing us $ 1.2 million per year. The point is that with the reliance on development needed for the expensive school, there is much risk and we have surrendered most of our ability to control our future to others.
Q. What if we need a bigger school in 15 or 20 years because we built a school for only 1,350 students?
A. We will have a school that was built to be expanded upon and 10 spare acres. We can expand on 2 acres and then sell 8 if construction funds are really needed. Think how much those 8 acres will be worth by then.
Q. If we vote “no” on the referendum, we will lose the chance to get started on new construction on time.
A. Yes, but we could save 10 acres of land and $ 50 million and retain control of our future.
Vote No! Our city and children deserve better.