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School Facilities Make the Case for Prop U

The School District of University City is seeking a $19.4 million bond issue in April.

In April, School District of University City voters will have the opportunity to vote on Prop U, a $19.4 million bond issue. The planned no-tax increase issue would improve facilities around the district. 

University City Patch recently toured University City High School with school district officials to go over some of the proposed plans to improve facilities.

Music facilities

The estimated cost to renovate the 4th floor is $1,794,000. In the choir room, plans include removing outdated risers to increase the amount of space for students, add practice rooms and make the facilities more computer accessible for students and faculty. 

The band room needs to accommodate many more students, Karl Scheidt, Executive Director of Operations, told Patch. The expansion of the band programs at the elementary and middle school level means more students are entering high school wanting to be in the band.

The band rooms date back several decades and need serious repair to acoustic panels. The doors to the room doesn't shut tight—a security concern.

"The way this is set up it limits the teaching," Scheidt said.

The entire fourth floor needs improved heating and air conditioning units. There is a lone restroom on the floor.

Library

The major expense planned at UCHS is a new library facility. The structure will be added on to the north end of the building. The current library—an enclosed former outdoor courtyard—would be repurposed.

"There really isn't adequate space in here for teachers to bring their classes in," Scheidt said. "The library shouldn't be a museum; we want students to use it. We need more technology for students and staff and more individual study areas."

Malcolm Hill, UCHS Assistant Principal, said the current library could be used as a commons area, possibly including a school store for Lions gear.

Athletic Facilities

Many repairs are planned for the gymnasium and athletic facilities. A new roof is needed to stop regular leaks which have damaged both the roof tiles and the floor.

New bleachers are needed to improve safety and aesthetics.

"We don't want to be the eyesore of our league," Hill said. "We want our kids to be proud to play home games."

New heating and cooling units are also needed in the gym facilities. "These are old units and they just can't keep up," Scheidt said. "When it is extremely hot or cold outside, it is hot or cold inside."

Because of the problems with air conditioning, it makes it hard for UCHS to hold athletic camps in the summertime. Ventilation is poor in many of the gym facilities.

Office areas need to be updated so they can be functional. Currently there is no office space for football Coach Carl Reed.

District Athletic Director Patrick Oligschlaeger said he hopes to create an open office area for all coaches.

"They need someplace to meet, somewhere to go over game film," he said.

The indoor track, currently a chipped concrete surface, needs to be resurfaced with a safe rubberized track surface. The dance studio also needs a better flooring surface. District officials plan a portable floor surface that can be moved up to the gym for performances.

Both the boys and girls locker rooms also need modernization and upgrades.

A separate group is looking into improvements to the football field itself, using proceeds from the sale of the Delmar-Harvard building. Field repairs are not part of the bond issue.

In 2011, UCHS played its playoff football games at Clayton High School because University City facilities cannot support night games.

"Our fans have to travel, we miss out on revenues from our concession stands and a piece of the gate receipts," Hill said. "We don't want our fans to have to travel."

Byron Price, Ward 3 U City Councilman, is helping to raise awareness for the district's bond issue. His youngest child graduated from UCHS in 2012.

"Our population is shrinking and we need to grow our tax base in University City," Price said. "The way to do that is to attract young families that want to stay in U City. Good schools attract good families."

Price said he believes improving the schools improves University City. 

"Good schools create safer neighborhoods," he said. "We need to build a stronger solid foundation to create better opportunities for kids."

"Our kids deserve facilities that are safe and encourage learning," Price said.

Planned Prop U Projects 

Location Project Total Cost Estimate Life Safety/ADA Program Need UCHS Library and classroom addition $8,675,000 X Fourth floor renovations $1,794,000 X X Gymnasium roof replacement - competition gym $1,020.000 X Gymnasium roof replacement - practice gyms $742,000 X
Gymnasium HVAC replacement - competition gym $588,000 X Gymnasium HVAC replacement - practice gym $280,000 X Athletic Department renovations $2,811,000 X Stadium ADA modifications $50,000 X Athletic practice field reconditioning $70,000 Natatorium upgrades (painting and pool deck lighting) $150,000 X Brittany Woods New elevator $252,000 X
Window replacement $781,000 X Replace all old lockers $151,000 X
Gym and locker room renovations (HVAC, sound system) $682,000 X Band room, choir room and art room renovation $112,000 X Flynn Park Replace windows $319,000 X Jackson Park Replace windows $285,000 X TOTAL $18,762,00  

See more on Prop U:

  • School Committee Recommends $19.4 Million Bond Issue
  • School Board Approves Facility Committee Plan
  • School Board to Vote on $19.4 Million Bond Issue
  • School District Puts $19.4 Million Bond on April Ballot
  • Divided City Council Supports Prop U for Schools
Cindy February 11, 2013 at 04:22 PM
The school district has prepared a Q&A Fact Book on Proposition U that can be found at http://ucityschools.org/vnews/display.v/ART/50eb4d6ae2541?in_archive=1
Billy Frank Thornton February 11, 2013 at 10:24 PM
So, this bond issue will not increase taxes...which is good. My question is where the money will come from paying back the bonds...wind fall profits from the Loop Folly?
Kim February 12, 2013 at 07:54 PM
As I understand it, this is not a "new" bond issue, but rather an extension of a current bond issue by a couple of years. Interest rates are low so it was considered a good time to ask for this extension and do some much-needed maintenance and updates. So, I suppose the money will continue to come from current funding frameworks..
Cindy February 12, 2013 at 08:04 PM
Mr. Thorton, the school district already has a tax rate set at 73.8 cents. Based on current projections, the District will be able to finance the $19.4 million bond issue without changing the tax rate. In other words, the tax rate would remain constant at 73.8 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. As the District pays off old bonds, money becomes available to fund new bonds without changing the tax rate. With passage of Proposition U, the bond debt would be extended for two years, from 2031 to 2033.
Billy Frank Thornton February 13, 2013 at 03:24 AM
Sounds like a Bond Issue Relay Race. University City already has high tax rates...on all fronts. Assessed valuations have increased...while our property values decreased. Guess the citizens will vote their minds..some retiree's will vote with their feet.

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