Albany County Legislators Look for Community Support of New High School
"It's when the community gets behind it that it works," was the message from Senator Phil Nicholas on Monday night when talking about building a new high school for Laramie. Nicholas was one of the Albany County Legislators that attended a work session with the Laramie City Council to review the 2013 Legislative session.
Multiple legislators talked about the need for community support in passing a bond to supplement the funding expected to come from the state. Mike Massie, chair of the New Laramie High School Community Coalition told KOWB the total cost of the new school is estimated to be $87 million and they believe the state will be willing to pay $62-65 million. The remaining portion would need to be paid through a new bond which would increase the property tax.
"Every time Laramie has had to build a new school, the property owners have paid 100% of it," said Massie. "Because this is the first new school building (in Laramie) under new school construction funding, the state is willing to pay 70-80%. So the roughly $20-25 million will consist of items that the state appropriations committee will not pay for."
Massie says these enhancements include adequate theater and music space, larger labs, an auditorium that would fit all students, faculty and parents, bleachers for fans, a full size gym and a practice gym, and a swimming pool. The Albany County School Board will be having public hearings in January and February before they make the final decision in February on what exactly will be on a May 7th ballot.
"It's a hard time to go to your residents and ask them to pay more property taxes to pay for those enhancements," Nicholas said to the council. "But if we're going to get it done it's going to take everybody...we're going to have to all work together and that's going to be the next big push."
The Laramie City Council has already approved $2.1 million of infrastructure improvements at the site of the new high school on Turner Tract. City Manager Janine Jordan said an extension of Bill Nye is in the works and they have been in contact with WYDOT about starting research to build either a viaduct or a new interchange off Interstate 80 at 30th Street. Jordan reported that the council also approved a measure to take another look at the planning concept for Turner Tract to make it more conducive to a school environment.
"At least a third of the things done in the Legislature, I'll never live to see whether they're successful and it's going to be the same way with this high school," said Rep. Kermit Brown. "Very few of us, if any, are going to be alive when that high school has run its course in terms of its useful life. We can chintz it, or we can do it right. It's going to make a huge benefit to the community that, in large part, we won't see, but it's the right thing to do."