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Thayer Central BOE hopes to pass improvement propositions

Thayer Central’s board of education and administration are currently putting out information to voters in hopes they will pass a couple of bond issues at the upcoming election Nov. 6. Passage of propositions A and B would allow for extensive physical improvements to the school as well as unify a split campus. Since 1961, the youngest elementary students have attended school at the primary building on Jefferson Avenue in downtown Hebron, while the rest of the students are located at the Thayer Central campus on Eads Ave., nearly one-half mile away.

“My role as superintendent is not to sell this issue as something that has to be done right now, but to provide our voting public with information about our facilities, our enrollment and our needs,” said Thayer Central Superintendent Drew Harris in the school’s most recent Titan Tablet newsletter. He added that it was also his role to inform the public of the associated costs for the project in order that they could make a better decision about what is in the best interest of the students, school and community. “Whether this bond issue passes or fails, our first priority will be our constant goal to provide our students with a quality education,” he said.

An information sheet handed out  during parent/teacher conferences two weeks ago indicated that the high school building was built in 1954, the primary building in 1961 and the intermediate building in 1979. Other than recent improvements to the track, roof, and HVAC system in the high school, no major improvements have been made since 1979, the information stated.

“If the bond issue passes, the district would save roughly $100,000 per year in reduced transportation costs, duplicated staff, operational costs, and repairs,” Harris stated during one of three town-hall style meetings during the summer. “That represents over $2 million during the life of the bond.”

Should the propositions fail, the district will begin to levy funds to repair and improve the facilities through the building fund. And while those improvements would take place over an estimated 12 to 15 years, the current cost is estimated at over $4.4 million for repairs to outdated facilities that are 30 to 60 years old.

Bond Levy Effects by Appraised Taxable Value

Proposition A proposes the renovation and remodeling of the intermediate and high school in order to close the primary building downtown bringing the K-2 students up to the main campus. The proposition also suggests replacing the parking lot in between the high school and intermediate school with a new gymnasium to connect the buildings into one unified campus. The intermediate gym would then be turned into 12 classrooms. “The gym connection allows students to pass between the two buildings without going outside, which greatly improves safety for intermediate and high school students,” Harris noted in the Titan Tablet. “They will no longer need to cross through the parking lot for lunch or classes.”

Also included in the $11.1 million plan A are repairs to existing buildings, addition of a staff/student support area and fire suppression system; renovations to the weight room, high school science labs, and restrooms in both buildings; floor coverings throughout both buildings; and new lockers in the high school hallways.

Proposition B includes construction of a new auditorium which the board feels will “allow our students and community greater access to high quality music and drama performances as well as providing a venue for local and guest cultural events.”  The cost of proposition B is just under $4.8 million, Harris noted in the newsletter. “And proposition B is dependent upon passage of proposition A. We will not build the fine arts addition unless proposition A passes.”

Finally, the board noted in its handout that according to a study conducted by EDU 5 in Beatrice, schools in Jefferson, Thayer and Fillmore counties were evaluated to create a potential consolidation plan. Due to the age and condition of the TC facilities, the plan did not include the local high school. “But a renovated campus would give Thayer Central the most modern buildings in our county and would serve as a community drawing card for people looking to relocate to this area,” the handout stated.

Superintendent Harris said the Board of Education is in the process of planning more community meetings to get all of the information out before Nov. 6.

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