School Board Adopts Master Plan For New KHS

Casey Kelly/KMXT

Over the past year, school officials in Kodiak have been talking about the need to replace or completely renovate Kodiak High School. A facilities study carried out by district staff showed the current school to be inadequate in terms of classroom size, vocational space, offices, and simple design. On Thursday, the school board approved a master plan for the project that now moves to the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly, and eventually to voters for a municipal bond election in October. KMXT’s Casey Kelly has more.

Earlier this year, at the urging of the school board, the borough assembly approved an amendment to an existing contract with architectural firm Jensen Yorba Lott to come up with three concepts for a new high school. Those concepts were unveiled at last week’s school board special meeting. But the district’s new Operations Manager Scott Williams cautioned that the concepts were just that.

(Williams 1 :16s “…these are just concepts.”)

Still, each concept comes with an estimated price tag that could make or break the project for voters, who will be asked to approve a bond measure to partially fund construction. The least expensive concept is a complete remodel of the high school for about 76.3 million dollars. Williams said the district does not support that concept, because the high school, which was originally built in the 1960s as a regional vocational center, has already been added onto and renovated so many times in the past.

(Williams 2 :09s “…it’s another renovation.”)

The concepts that the district likes the best would require almost entirely new construction. One would keep a 1972 addition to the school, which includes the commons area, library, and gym, as part of the high school. The other would build an entirely new school, although the current gym and commons would still be left standing for other purposes. Williams suggested that those areas, which are currently undergoing a seismic retrofit, could be utilized by the borough as office space and that the gym could become a community gym.

(Williams 3 :11s “…for some other purpose.”)

The estimated price tag for both of the new construction options exceeds 90-million dollars, with the option for completely new construction reaching nearly 96.2 million. One benefit of building a completely new school is that classroom disruptions would be minimized. The only existing building that would be torn down to make way for a new high school would be the learning center, a stand alone structure on the edge of the high school campus. However, Superintendent Larry LeDoux said nothing would be easy about the project, and the district has already started to plan for every possible scenario.

(LeDoux 1 :10s “…and get through it.”)

The school board unanimously approved the most expensive concept, for completely new construction, to go forward as its favored project. Board member Norm Wooten said the fact that it would cause minimal disruption to class activity contributed to his decision.

(Wooten 1 :13s “…for me, if you would.”)

The next step is for the borough assembly to introduce a bond ordinance, which, according to a district timeline, would likely happen in early August. Williams said the borough could benefit from a state program, which would reimburse 60 percent of construction costs. There’s also an outside chance that the reimbursable amount could be bumped up to 70 percent, if Kodiak High School is deemed a regional high school.

(Williams 4 :20s “…from villages and afar.”)

If the bond measure moves forward, district and borough officials will not be allowed to advocate one way or another for its passage. But student and parents’ groups can. Several members of the Kodiak High School Student Council and a representative from the Parents Teachers and Students Association were at Thursday’s meeting and said they plan to advocate for the new school.

I’m Casey Kelly.


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