Plan could cost $68 million

By Lynn R. Parks

The Seaford School Board is set to begin discussions about embarking on what could be a $68 million building project and could include construction of a new high school. Those discussions will get underway at the board's Monday night meeting.

In a special meeting held Monday, Dec. 6, school board members heard from Studio Jaed, an architectural and engineering firm based in Bear that has been studying options for accommodating the district's growing elementary school population and for creating a high school suited for project-based learning, with large, open classrooms and the flexibility to create spaces in which teams of students can gather. The district is reworking the Seaford High curriculum in light of the school's ranking according to student scores on the state tests. Of five rankings, SHS has the next-to-lowest, "Academic Progress."

On Monday night, Richard Moretti, program executive with Studio Jaed, presented three options: Construct a new high school. Move the middle school to the existing high school and transform the current middle school building into an elementary school. Estimated cost: $68 million, or a tax increase for the average Seaford homeowner of $112 per year, averaged over 22 years. Construct a new elementary school and renovate the existing high school. Estimated cost: $52 million, or a tax increase for the average homeowner of $86 per year, averaged over 22 years.

Construct a new elementary school and implement the new project-based learning curriculum in the existing high school without renovations. Estimated cost: $21 million, or a tax increase for the average homeowner of $35, averaged over 22 years.

The bulk of the cost of the first option would be construction of a new, 1,000-pupil high school, at about $56 million. That includes a wing for orthopedically handicapped students ($1.3 million) and a new stadium with a natural-turf field and a track ($3.8 million). It also includes $2.8 million for green technology that in the long run would save the district money.

The district would have to buy 42 acres of land to accommodate the school and stadium. That would add about $8.4 million to the cost of the project.

Conversion of the middle school to an elementary school would cost about $3.5 million. The school would accommodate 730 students in prekindergarten through grade five. Of the total $68 million for this option, Moretti estimated that the state would pay $50 million and local taxpayers $18 million.

Over the 22-year payback period of the bond the district would take out, school taxes would go up an average of 70 cents per $100 of assessed value. Taxpayers in the district pay school taxes based on county assessments. As of last year, the average assessment in the district was $16,188.

In the second option, renovation of the high school for project-based learning would generate most of the cost. The renovation project, including a new stadium and green energy, would cost about $31 million. Construction of a new 600-pupil elementary school, the second part of that option, would cost about $21 million, $18 million for the building and $3 million to buy the necessary 16 acres of property.

This option would mean an increase in tax bills of 54 cents per $100 of assessed value, averaged over 20 years, Moretti said. He estimated that the state would pay $38 million of the cost of the project.

The third, and cheapest, option would involve only one construction project, of the new 600-pupil elementary school. That pared-down option, costing about $21 million, would mean an increase in tax bills of 22 cents per $100 of assessed value, averaged over 22 years.

Moretti told board members that after they agree on which option to pursue, the district should present that option to the state Department of Education for its OK. The step after that would be setting a referendum date, when voters will have their say.



For your information The Seaford School Board will meet Monday, Dec. 13, 7 p.m., in the board room in the district's administration offices, 390 N. Market St. Ext., across from the high school. Included on the agenda will be discussion of possible construction plans. For details, call 629-4587.

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