By Doug Jacobs, Superintendent
The Morgan Board of Education is grappling with increasing district enrollment figures across the district. All of the schools in the district are nearing capacity, and the growth in the community is projected to add 60-100 students or more each year for the foreseeable future.
To solicit stakeholder involvement, the board invited a group of community and school members to participate on a district growth committee in 2014. These volunteers met for a year and analyzed many different ways to handle the increasing enrollment. They created a work product that can be viewed at www.morgansd.org – Growth Committee Report.
To address immediate crowding issues, the board will relocate seven existing classroom portables at Morgan Elementary School and remodel them for use as needed at Morgan Middle School and Mountain Green Elementary School. Additional portable classrooms will be purchased and added as needed.
The board has two financing options for major capital projects. One is through a general obligation bond election that requires voter approval. Another is through a municipal building authority process, which does not require voter approval.
After lengthy discussion in many planning meetings and work sessions, the board has determined to work toward a bond election likely to take place in November of 2017 for the purpose of financing two major capital projects: A new two-story classroom addition to Morgan High School (projected cost of $10-12 million) and a new two-story middle school (projected cost of $15-20 million) on property the district owns on Trapper’s Loop Road.
Both projects would be scheduled to be available in the 2020-21 school year. Increased growth in the county year-to-year should ease the effect of increases for county taxpayers.
There are two major building issues at Morgan High School. First, the old 16-classroom wing is deteriorating and needs to be completely remodeled or replaced. Remodeling costs would be expensive and would not result in additional space. Second, additional classroom space is needed.
The board feels that the most economical course of action would be to add a two-story, 24-classroom addition to be located in the front of the current facility. When the new classroom wing is complete, the old 16-classroom wing would be demolished to create additional parking. Due to changes in building codes, the 16-classroom wing cannot be maintained beyond the completion of the addition without costly renovations.
A new middle school at Trapper’s Loop would solve overcrowding at Mountain Green Elementary School, Morgan Elementary School and Morgan Middle School. It would also afford students living in Mountain Green the opportunity of attending a neighborhood school from kindergarten through the eighth grade.
Both the new and existing middle schools would house grades 5 through 8. Moving grade 5 out of the elementary schools and into the middle schools would free up significant space at both elementary schools, and the new school would significantly decrease the overcrowding at Morgan Middle School.
The board is committed to a cost-effective construction process, resulting in economical buildings with few frills to minimize the cost increases to taxpayers.
They are also evaluating other cost-saving measures including the consolidation of food production. Traffic congestion on Young Street is also a concern that is being addressed by the district transportation committee, one possibility being the reconfiguration of current bus loading and unloading.
The board is also committed to the purchase of at least one new school bus each year and additional maintenance equipment in the bus garage.
The board has also commissioned an engineering report on the old boilers at Morgan Middle School and Morgan High School for repair and replacement.
They also anticipate the need for a new elementary school in the next few years, likely located in the Enterprise-Peterson area.