Although the Phillips School District has appeared quiet and empty over recent months, work is already underway on the school redesign process that will be funded by a $9.86 million referendum approved by taxpayers on April 7.

The project is currently in the planning stage, which will continue through February. The project is projected to go to bid next year in March, with construction running from April 2021 through the end of summer 2022.

Once completed, the newly redesigned campus will house all students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade on a single campus at the site of what is currently the middle/high school complex.

Long-term borrowing for the project has already been finalized, coming with a significantly lower interest rate than was initially estimated. When the referendum was presented to taxpayers, it was expected that the interest rate would be around 3.75%; the district was able to obtain a 2% interest rate, which will decrease the estimated total debt payments by $2.1 million and is expected to result in a lower mill rate impact for taxpayers.

Four subcommittees have been formed to focus on the key elements of the redesign project: the expansion of the technical education department and construction of a manufacturing center, the renovation and redesign of the new elementary space, the construction and relocation of middle school classrooms, and general buildings and grounds work — including plans for the existing elementary school.

Each committee has at least one member of Phillips School District administration and an elected member of the School Board of Education, along with other staff and community members.

District administrator Rick Morgan told the Review that the committees are currently working to craft detailed plans and blueprints for the school redesign — a process the public will have the opportunity to become involved in during an open house, slated to be held online in early August.

“We want to keep people involved in the planning process, and allow for their input on the design process,” Morgan said.

More information will be released once planning has progressed and a date has been set for the August open house.

(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)

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