Proposal for Sperreng topic of Lindbergh school board meeting

Board eyes long-term solution to Sperreng space concerns

By MIKE ANTHONY

A proposal to provide a long-term solution to space concerns at Sperreng Middle School is scheduled to be discussed today — Aug. 7 — by the Lindbergh Board of Education.

The school board is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. in the boardroom of the Administration Building, 4900 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

A recent telephone survey of Lindbergh School District residents identified a clear favorite of three options to ease space concerns at Sperreng Middle School.

That proposal would retain Sperreng as a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school, convert Truman Elementary School to a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school, add onto Crestwood and Long elementary schools, convert Concord School to an elementary school and either construct or buy a new building to relocate the district’s early childhood education, or ECE, program from Concord School.

The estimated cost, including projects identified as critical by district officials and proposed security projects, is nearly $31 million.

Superintendent Jim Simpson told the Call Friday that Board of Education members would discuss at tonight’s meeting “more accurate” estimates for the cost of the option favored by survey respondents and the associated critical projects and security projects.

“… The board is honing in or refining their decision about whether to go for a November bond issue …,” he said. “We’ve gone out and gotten what are more solid or more accurate estimates as we go down that refining process and so the board will be seeing those more accurate estimates — accurate being when you first start, phase one is what are we looking at and what would that roughly cost? And now this is more like phase two in which we actually get engineers and architects and construction managers to say this is pretty close to what that will cost. So they’re going to be seeing a new set of numbers …”

The Board of Education voted unanimously in October to establish a Demographic Task Force comprised of parents, residents and staff members to recommend long-term options to address space concerns at Sperreng, which last year had an enrollment of 1,321 pupils while the ideal size for a middle school serving grades six through eight is 600 to 800 pupils.

The 53-member Demographic Task Force formulated six options, which school-board members later whittled down to three choices, including the one favored by the survey respondents.

In late May, board members agreed to solicit community input through a telephone survey on the three options — including the one identified as the clear favorite in the survey — to provide long-term solutions to ease overcrowding at Sperreng Middle School.

The other options were:

• Option B — Converting Sperreng and Truman Elementary School to fifth- through eighth-grade middle schools, adding onto Crestwood and Long elementary schools, converting Concord School to an elementary school and either constructing or buying a new building to relocate the ECE program from Concord School.

The estimated cost, including projects identified as critical by officials and proposed security projects, would be $27.3 million.

• Option C — Retaining Sperreng as a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school, converting Truman Elementary to a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school, ad-ding onto Crestwood and Long elementary schools and building a new elementary school.

The estimated cost, including projects identified as critical by officials and proposed security projects, would be $44.3 million.

Besides Option A and Option B, administrators on May 27 proposed Option C, an option recommended by the task force, but initially rejected by the school board primarily because the projected cost would exceed the district’s ability to put a no-tax-rate-increase bond issue on the ballot. The district’s current bonding capacity is $31 million.

The Board of Education is scheduled to meet Tuesday, Aug. 19, and two items on the tentative agenda relate to a possible November bond issue. But Simpson said the board’s discussion tonight will determine if those two items remain on the Aug. 19 agenda.

“On the 7th, the Thursday night meeting, the board may or may not ask us to remove those (from the Aug. 19 agenda),” he said, noting that Aug. 26 is the last day a proposition can be placed on the Nov. 4 ballot. “The 19th and 26th are pretty close together and so we’re having those things ready for the board to start thinking about so that if they want to go and feel that’s the right thing to do, then those things are ready to go so that we won’t have any problem with a time line like the 26th. So the board on the 7th will also give us direction about whether to remove those from the 19th agenda to let those stay on.”