Over the past year, school officials in Kodiak have
been talking about the need to replace or completely renovate Kodiak High
School. A facilities study carried out by district staff showed the current school
to be inadequate in terms of classroom size, vocational space, offices, and
simple design. On Thursday, the school board approved a master plan for the
project that now moves to the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly, and eventually to
voters for a municipal bond election in October. KMXT’s Casey Kelly has more.
Earlier this year, at the urging of
the school board, the borough assembly approved an amendment to an existing
contract with architectural firm Jensen Yorba Lott to come up with three
concepts for a new high school. Those concepts were unveiled at last week’s
school board special meeting. But the district’s new Operations Manager Scott
Williams cautioned that the concepts were just that.
(Williams 1 :16s “…these are just concepts.”)
Still, each concept comes with an
estimated price tag that could make or break the project for voters, who will
be asked to approve a bond measure to partially fund construction. The least
expensive concept is a complete remodel of the high school for about 76.3 million
dollars. Williams said the district does not support that concept, because the
high school, which was originally built in the 1960s as a regional vocational
center, has already been added onto and renovated so many times in the past.
(Williams 2 :09s “…it’s another renovation.”)
The concepts that the district
likes the best would require almost entirely new construction. One would keep a
1972 addition to the school, which includes the commons area, library, and gym,
as part of the high school. The other would build an entirely new school,
although the current gym and commons would still be left standing for other
purposes. Williams suggested that those areas, which are currently undergoing a
seismic retrofit, could be utilized by the borough as office space and that the
gym could become a community gym.
(Williams 3 :11s “…for some other purpose.”)
The estimated price tag for both of
the new construction options exceeds 90-million dollars, with the option for
completely new construction reaching nearly 96.2 million. One benefit of
building a completely new school is that classroom disruptions would be
minimized. The only existing building that would be torn down to make way for a
new high school would be the learning center, a stand alone structure on the
edge of the high school campus. However, Superintendent Larry LeDoux said
nothing would be easy about the project, and the district has already started
to plan for every possible scenario.
(LeDoux 1 :10s “…and get through it.”)
The school board unanimously
approved the most expensive concept, for completely new construction, to go
forward as its favored project. Board member Norm Wooten said the fact that it
would cause minimal disruption to class activity contributed to his decision.
(Wooten 1 :13s “…for me, if you would.”)
The next step is for the borough
assembly to introduce a bond ordinance, which, according to a district
timeline, would likely happen in early August. Williams said the borough could
benefit from a state program, which would reimburse 60 percent of construction
costs. There’s also an outside chance that the reimbursable amount could be
bumped up to 70 percent, if Kodiak High School is deemed a regional high
(Williams 4 :20s “…from villages and afar.”)
If the bond measure moves forward,
district and borough officials will not be allowed to advocate one way or
another for its passage. But student and parents’ groups can. Several members
of the Kodiak High School Student Council and a representative from the Parents
Teachers and Students Association were at Thursday’s meeting and said they plan
to advocate for the new school.
I’m Casey Kelly.