CHS addition

A 3D rendering of what architects believe the entrance to a proposed Centerville High School addition would look like, if voters approved the project.

CENTERVILLE — There are still opportunities to learn about an upcoming bond vote asking the community to fund a new Centerville High School addition.

In-person open houses are scheduled for Sunday and Thursday, as well as an in-person and a virtual community forum later this month.

The Centerville Community School District is planning to undertake several projects in the upcoming year, funded through a combination of their statewide 1-cent sales tax proceeds and a general obligation bond.

The biggest of the projects, and the one impacted by the upcoming March special election, is plans to undertake a major renovation at Centerville High School.

If approved by more than 60% of voters, the renovation would build a new addition that would serve as the main building of the Centerville High School campus. It would replace the original high school building which was constructed in 1917.

District officials say the impact on property taxes would be a net-zero for at least the first decade.

The district and its architect say it will be cheaper and most cost-effective to build a new addition instead of trying to renovate and repair the original high school building.

With upgrades needed to nearly all areas of the building, including the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system; expanding cafeteria space and resolving basement moisture issues as some of the original building's problems.

The cost to fix the original building was estimated at $16 million. Proposed instead is a new addition, estimated for $15 million, that would attach to the other high school additions built in 1938, 1998 and 2004. The original high school would be demolished once the addition is completed, with a parking lot replacing it.

The new addition would include 12 classrooms, a cafeteria/commons area, kitchen, non-competition gym, locker rooms, weight room, media center and offices.

The original high school building is too large for the current student population, and officials say the proposed addition has the added benefit of being more appropriately sized and efficient. Engineers expect annual utility costs would be 18% less than the existing school, a savings of about $25,000 each year.

About $12 million for the proposed addition would come from general obligation bonds and the other $3 million from revenue from the 1-cent statewide sales tax program.

The Centerville Community School Board said the district projects its tax rate would stay at or below the current $18.73 "for at least the next 10 years," according to information they've presented. They add it's difficult to estimate tax impacts beyond that 10 year period due to many unknowns.

The special election is on March 2, but early voting has started. Absentee ballots can be obtained through the Appanoose County Auditor's Office from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays.

The Centerville High School will be open for an open house on Sunday, Feb. 14 from 2-4 p.m. and Thursday, Feb. 18 from 7-9 p.m. The district will host a public forum over Zoom on Feb. 16 at 5:30 p.m. (see centervilleschools.org for details). An in-person forum will be held at the Simon Estes Auditorium on Feb. 25 at 5:30 p.m.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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