(Riverton, Wyo.) – School District #25 received approval and $408,200 from the Wyoming School Facilities Commission last week and now has a parcel of land on West Monroe under contract for a new elementary school. The update on negotiations for the land purchase was made by Superintendent Terry Snyder at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.
“We now have a contract on (the land) at 1200 West Monroe Avenue, on the west end of Monroe and north of Rein Field. We think it will be great,” Snyder told the school board members. The parcel contains 16.5 acres of land and will be the site of a new school that will be designed for 360 students. The new school site is bounded on the west by the extension of Major Avenue.
Snyder said the new school is needed for the district to achieve a legislatively mandated student teacher ratio of 16 to 1 in the primary grades. Currently, the district is at a 19 to 1 ratio, but is out of space.
Later in the meeting, Snyder said Riverton’s school enrollment continues to grow. “Our enrollment is up 63 kids from last year and we’re staying steady from what we started the school year with,” he said. “We started strong and we’re still strong, which means we’ll need more capacity.” The Riverton schools currently have 2,639 students enrolled.
Snyder said the sale price represented “fair value to us and to the sellers” and he noted that the West Monroe land purchase “was significantly less expensive than the Aspen Park property,” where the district’s last new school was built.
The superintendent noted that the SFC increased the state funds allowed for the sale by $50,000 “which means we won’t have to take (funds) out of our general fund or depreciation account to purchase the property.”
The district now has the funds to purchase the property and to design the new building, but funds for the actual construction must still be approved by the legislature. “
In terms of the next steps, Snyder told the school board members that the district and the SFC would look into prototypes for the new school design, which he said could shave off one entire year of the planning process, if an adequate prototype could be found. “We’re looking at prototypes to move project as quickly as we can because we need capacity,” he said.
Snyder also said that in order to prepare the site for construction of the school, another $1.25 million would be necessary for such items as building streets, covering an open irrigation ditch, soil removal and soil compaction and such. “Out of the discussion we had last week, I’m hoping the state will build those costs into their budget to be a stand alone component rather than coming out of our construction costs,” he said. Snyder indicated the district had a geo-technical and engineering study of the site conducted and had meetings with city officials to determine what the site would need for infrastructure. That cost was submitted in advance, with the reports, to the SFC. “I wanted to give them some idea of what it would cost to get the property ready so there would be no surprises down the road,” Snyder said. “And I think they appreciated that.”
Snyder said the earliest the district could be awarded construction money from the legislature would be the spring of 2014, or perhaps mid summer 2014.