West Franklin voters will get to decide on a $13 million bond issue in a special walk-in ballot election on June 12.
The district is hoping to make upgrades to the middle school/high school in Pomona, Williamsburg Elementary and Appanoose Elementary to provide more usable space and make the learning environment safer.
The largest upgrades will be at the secondary school in Pomona. Williamsburg Elementary will get a new enclosed walkway between the main school and the cafeteria. There will also be work done to the gym windows which will make it safer during severe weather.
“Safety is the main thing,” Jerry Turner, West Franklin superintendent, said. “We are going to add a hallway and when weather is bad like a few weeks ago, it keeps things safer.”
At Appanoose Elementary, a new music room, which will serve as a storm shelter that can accommodate all students and staff, is planned. Currently the school does not have a storm shelter.
At the middle school/high school, a new gymnasium will be built that will serve as the main gym for athletic competitions, pep rallies, graduation and physical education classes. Also planned is a new eight-lane track with a rubberized surface.
“We will use it not just during track season but it will be used all during the year and in the summer as kids have dance practice, cheer practice and summer camps,” Turner said.
Additional rooms will include a new music room and a new weight room. The new music room, which will serve the band and choir, will serve as a storm shelter for the school.
Other safety upgrades are a covered walkway between the middle school and high school and new vocational room for agriculture and wood shop. This would replace the current shops currently located across K-68 — requiring students to cross the busy highway to reach it.
“We’ve been asking kids to cross 68 highway and you can just imagine the safety issues,” he said. “It will make it a lot safer for our kids. Our wood shop is very small and those are big things at West Franklin. The CTE (career and tech education) classes are important to not just the kids but to the community. We have a lot of kids in FFA and a lot that take wood shop class.”
Turner said a committee will be put together by an outside entity to promote, inform and educate the public about the bond issue. The committee will have its first meeting on March 28. The consulting firm of George K. Baum and Company will guide and lead the committee.
“Someone built a public school for me one day,” Turner said. “It’s been a lot of years ago and it’s still standing. I’m sure I am biased. I have been in this business forever but we owe it to our kids. That’s just my opinion and we will see what the community thinks. If it passes or doesn’t pass, we will do the best with what we have.”