Superintendent: New Tech and Updated Apollo Will Cost Roughly $142 Million
ST. CLOUD - Funds for a new Tech High School and for updates to Apollo High School will likely return to the ballot for St. Cloud area voters in November.
On Thursday, District 742 Superintendent Willie Jett proposed a $137.9 million price tag for the two projects. Just over $100.5 million would go to a new Tech and $37.3 million would go to Apollo High School upgrades.
Factoring in 3.5 percent due to inflation, the referendum looks to be around $142.7 million. Jett is recommending the district have a referendum this November.
The new Tech is still proposed to go on a piece of land on 33rd Street South.
Last year, voters in the St. Cloud area school district voted down a $167 million referendum that included $113.8 million for a new Tech, $46.5 million for Apollo upgrades and $6.7 million for district security and technology upgrades.
After meeting with community and advisory groups this year, a few tweaks were made in order to cut costs: Jett says the new Tech will hold 1,600 students instead of the 1,800 proposed last year. The proposal leaves open the possibility of expanding the school. The auditorium size was also reduced. This cut the Tech costs by roughly $13.25 million.
The costs to upgrade Apollo were cut by just over $9.1 million, Jett recommended eliminating projects with the least amount of direct impact on student learning, such as a new gymnasium.
Jett also decided to cut the $6.7 million for technology and security enhancements that were proposed last year. The possibility of using insurance money from the Roosevelt building fire was discussed.
A two-part question on the ballot was recommended (last year, the referendum was only one question) : the first question will ask for the construction of a new Tech and the second requests a remodel of Apollo. Question 1 would need to pass in order for Question 2 to pass.
During the meeting, board member Al Dahlgren says he will support the proposal. However, he voiced concern with Tech and Apollo being divided into two questions.
"What happens if the first question passes and the second doesn't? Would we need to then do another referendum for Apollo? I think there's some questions that need to be answered there."
Bruce Hentges asked about the possibility of having a third question on the ballot for money to be used for school security improvements. Some board members were also concerned with public perception of them using insurance money to pay for District security updates.
The board took no action on the proposal. They will likely start taking steps towards the plan during their next meeting in mid-July.