Locations of new K-5 schools might be announced before voters make decision

Posted: Oct. 4, 2014 6:11 pm Updated: May. 13, 2015 6:11 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

One concern frequently heard about the Quincy School District's $89 million bond issue is that backers have never revealed the possible locations for three of the five new K-5 elementary schools being proposed.

This could soon change.

"We're hoping that possibly before Nov. 4 we will be able to announce where we would be putting the schools," said George Crickard, chairman of the Committee for Building Quincy's Schools.

It's been known from the beginning that one of the five new schools would be erected on an 11-acre tract surrounding Monroe School -- a spacious piece of property already owned by the district. The existing school would be torn down once the new building is in place.

A second school would be built on the current site of Baldwin Intermediate School. The existing auditorium, cafeteria and Blue Devil Gym would be preserved, and a new K-5 classroom structure would be attached immediately northwest of those facilities.

The School District has not said where the three other elementary buildings might be. Crickard said he and others working in support of the referendum believe "it would certainly be helpful to let people know there are some options" being given serious consideration.

He said some "very intriguing" sites are being explored.

"There is more property between 24th Street and the river than the general public is aware of that could be possible sites," he said.

Joel Murphy, the district's business manager, has been involved in the negotiations behind closed doors. He is reluctant to provide details for fear the asking prices for certain tracts might skyrocket, but he also believes it's possible some possible sites might be revealed before the election.

Murphy said about $600,000 has been budgeted in the $89 million bond issue for land acquisition at three undetermined sites.

"Our goal is to try to locate school sites that would be central to where our students are at," Murphy said.

He noted that about two-thirds of all Quincy students live west of 24th Street, so it's likely the district will be looking for possible school locations on that side of town.

Todd Moore, an engineer who headed the design team that put together the School District's facilities master plan, said all five of the proposed new elementary schools would be single-story structures. Each building site will have to be at least two city blocks wide to accommodate the schools and to provide sufficient space for parking, playground area, and drop-off and pickup of students.

Plans announced at public meetings show each of the three schools would cost about $15.6 million. The new K-5 school at Monroe would cost $14.2 million, while the new school at Baldwin would cost $12 million.

The bond issue also would provide funding to build an addition and make other improvements at Quincy High School at a cost of $16 million. The work would be done primarily to accommodate the arrival of about 500 ninth-graders. Freshmen now attend Quincy Junior High School, which would be converted into a school serving grades 6 through 8 if the bond issue were approved.

Murphy and Moore say the proposed construction schedule calls for the new Monroe School and the Quincy High School work to be completed first, with construction at both sites to start in June and be completed by the start of the 2016-17 school year.

Construction would then begin on the three schools at the undetermined locations. Those schools would be built on a staggered schedule. The first would start around November 2015 and be done about 15 months later. Construction on the second school would start six months after the first school is started, then work on the third school would begin six months after that.

Murphy said this staggered pattern would be beneficial to local contractors, including concrete crews that could finish their work at one building and then move straight to the next ones in a sequential order.

The new Baldwin Intermediate School would be built last, with construction starting around April 2017. The school would be ready by the start of the 2018-19 school year.



Estimated costs for proposed new Quincy schools:

New K-5 school at Monroe Sites: $14.2 million. 

New K-5 school at Baldwin site: $12 million.

Three new K-5 schools at undetermined locations: $15.6 million each.

Improvements at Quincy High School: $16 million.

Total cost: $89 million