Arrowhead High School could have a new pool, a new auditorium and a revamped base plan that would address facility and maintenance needs, should voters approve it Nov. 8.
The Arrowhead School Board agreed this summer to put the three items in two questions on the November ballot .
The referendum's first question will ask voters whether the district should borrow $64.7 million for facility needs that include safety and security upgrades, HVAC work, new rooftop units and roof repairs.
A new Design Engineering Manufacturing Center at North Campus would also be included, along with renovations to special education areas, new storage for gym and fine art areas and major classroom renovations.
The project would also add a new 40-yard, eight-lane swimming pool to accommodate community and competitive swimming. Spectator seating would also be increased around the pool for competitive meets, and the current pool will be renovated into a fitness area and storage space.
The second question will ask voters to authorize the district to exceed the revenue limit by $173,000 each year to fund the pool and auditorium's operating costs.
Arrowhead School District superintendent Laura Myrah said the referendum was the culmination of a six-year process beginning in 2009 with a comprehensive facilities study that stalled in 2011 due to economic troubles.
It wasn't until fall 2015, Myrah said, that the school held special board meetings on the referendum.
It also had architectural firm Eppstein Uhen do a more modified study to complement the earlier facilities study. Eppstein Uhen interviewed 35 staff members about their work environments and sent out a communitywide survey that drew 3,370 responses, starting a lengthy process to decide what should be included on the referendum.
"It was very hard to prioritize when all of those items had come up in assessments," Myrah said, "whether it was interviews or physical facility assessments. I think our nine-member school board, their priority is to represent the community, and they absolutely do. Some of the school board members were not in favor of one large question; others were in favor of one large question. I'm sure the community has mixed feelings on that as well."
Why separate questions?
There's a possibility that one of the questions may pass and one may not. By state law, the questions have to be listed separately, as the first is a construction project and the other is a reoccurring cost.
If only the first question passes, Myrah said, the school board will have to decide whether to continue spending money on the construction projects until operating and maintenance costs for the auditorium and pool are figured out, hold another referendum for those costs, or hold off on the projects altogether.
As for only the second question passing, Myrah said the answer is simple: "The second question is purposefully worded that we would be collecting that money to support brand-new additions of a theater and a pool," Myrah said. "If the fine arts auditorium and the pool don't pass, if they're not constructed, we wouldn't and couldn't collect that annual $173,000."
"We've had minimal discussion on it," Arrowhead School Board President Bob Rosch said about backup plans for scenarios regarding the passing of only one question. "You have to have a wait-and-see-what-happens kind of issue."
Myrah said the referendum idea came about because the district's revenues were not keeping pace with operating and maintenance expenses. There were also anecdotes regarding the necessity to renovate classrooms to prepare students for the modern workforce, along with those about limited space in the auditorium and pool, for example.
To educate the community, Myrah said, the school has hosted a number of in-person sessions, and has sent out a number of emails and literature to mailboxes, and has held information sessions and four different tours of campus.
One more in-person opportunity will be available for people to learn more about the referendum during a information night session from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, at the school's North Campus. It will include about 10 different stations in the commons related to the referendum, along with another tour of campus.
"For anyone that wasn't able to come to the tours that happened in the first half of October, it's a great opportunity to come in," Myrah said.