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Linn-Mar continues to vet facilities proposal; hopes for school board vote Oct. 10

Proposal delays plans for second high school, eighth elementary

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By Kevin Kane, correspondent

MARION — Linn-Mar’s facilities proposal is not a final solution but does address key growth-related issues, school board members said this week at the third of three scheduled public forums.

“It’s the best plan that gets us out the furthest,” Linn-Mar school board President Tim Isenberg said.

“It’s not the final solution,” added Tina Patterson, who recently stepped down as board vice president. “There’s never a final solution.”

The proposal puts off the need for a second high school, which the district does not have the bonding capacity to pursue, perhaps for as long as 10 years. It also delays building an eighth elementary school.

The centerpiece of the proposal is to convert Excelsior Middle School to an eighth- and ninth- grade center and to build a middle school. Middle schools would be reconfigured from the sixth through eighth grades to fifth through seventh grades.

The change is estimated to free up space for 26 classrooms at the elementary level (reconfigured for prekindergarten through fourth grades) and one grade level (500 students) at the high school, which would then serve 10th through 12th grades.

The proposal includes two overlapping phases.

The first phase (one to three years) includes a bond campaign, land acquisition, making changes to Excelsior, building a middle school and restructuring grade levels.

The second phase (two to five years) addresses continuing growth by building an addition to Oak Ridge Middle School and making upgrades at Bowman Woods, Indian Creek and Wilkins elementary schools.

Costs are estimated to be between $30.75 million and $56.5 million for the first phase and between $5.25 million and $10.5 million for the second phase. The total is expected to be between $36 million and $67 million.

Linn-Mar administrators still are taking input on the proposal, but would like to put it up for a vote at the school board’s Oct. 10 meeting.

If approved, the proposal will be placed in the district’s overall strategic plan and the administration can work on more specific details.

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