De Soto residents to vote on $5 million referendum for more room
It's a challenge many school districts are facing -- how to provide the best education to students with aging and out-of-date facilities.
The De Soto School District is looking to better meet that need with a nearly $5 million referendum.
When the De Soto Middle and High School Building was built in the early 1950s, it was actually a state-of-the-art facility for the area.
Today, students and staff have outgrown the 60-year-old building.
For De Soto middle and high school students, space can be difficult to come by.
“(It’s) a little cramped,” said Michelle Tryggestad, library media specialist for De Soto middle and high school. “We're a very busy space. We often have high school and middle school in here working together.”
The district's enrollment has grown steadily for the past decade.
Tryggestad said the library just doesn't have enough room to keep up with the changes.
“Ideally, it would be nice to have a high school class come into research, a middle class to come in together for research and then your individual students coming in and using the space also. At this point, we can barely fit one class in.”
“This referendum is long overdue,” said Jim Kuchta, the district superintendent.
The money would be used to update and expand both the library as well as the gym to giving students and staff the tools they need to succeed.
“We've got a great staff that really works hard with our students, but by improving the facility both by the library media center and the physical education space, we believe our students will do even better,” said Kuchta.
Space can be so hard to find at times, right now, that several classes have to share the building's one gym at the same time.
Physical education teacher Heather Johnson said having little room to be active can translate in a negative way to a student’s performance in the classroom.
“Right now kids are being less active, and it's definitely impacting their health, which there's studies that shows (the) impact on their grades,” said Johnson. “The less physically fit you are, the lower academic performance that you do.”
And educators agree; more space means more room for academic success.
“The facility has served the purpose of the past generations, and we're looking at this referendum to meet the needs of future generations,” said Kuchta.
If the referendum passes, in addition to the expansion of the gymnasium and the library media center, the library would be moved more toward the front of the building to be more accessible by community members as well as students.
The project would also include a more secure entrance to the building.
If approved, residents would see about a $65 property tax increase per $100,000 home.
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