The Atlantic School Board Thursday night, discussed the reasons for choosing a considerably more expensive new construction and renovation plan for the school district, prior to voting on proceeding with the process to bring a $19.8-million bond referendum to the voters. Superintendent Mike Amstein said it all boils down to current and projected increased enrollment and the need to provide a quality education.
Board Member Dennis Davis, who was the only one to vote against Concept 2, wanted to know why Amstein thought the less expensive option (Concept1). wasn’t more fitting. Amstein said it doesn’t provide any additional space for what’s going to be needed in the next two- to three-years. He said when space for Title 1 and ESL increasing enrollments are taken into consideration, Concept 1 doesn’t provide the necessary space. It does provide space for regular classrooms, but the other classes are cramped. Concept 2 he says, will provide that additional space.
Davis wanted to know how firm and accurate the projected enrollment numbers are that is prompting a proposed expansion of the district’s facilities. Amstein said “Our best guess comes from our 4-year old program and our 3-year old program. Both of those numbers still tend to run along the same lines we’ve been receiving in the past few years.” He said graduating class numbers are also expected to increase over the next couple of years.
Past that, Amstein says it’s difficult to project what the numbers will be, but the State is projecting 120-to 125 kindergarten students coming in. Amstein says they’ve already surpassed that. He said he doesn’t think the district is “overbuilding.” Board member Phil Hascall said he “Would have voted in a heart beat for Option 1,” so the district could build faster and get rid of the mobile classrooms, but it would “short change” the kids. He said he’s glad the administration gathered the necessary input and the board made the right decision in choosing Concept 2.
Hascall said he thinks it gives the district more flexibility. Option 1 also didn’t contain a renovation for the Industrial Tech program. Board member Rod Hartwig said Concept 2 helps meet the Board’s goal of a high standard of education.