School officials have two main decisions to make this month on the , according to board member Carl Naso:
1. Where will it be built?
2. Will it house only seventh- and eighth-graders, or will sixth-graders attend classes there too?
"After that, it's just math," Naso said, indicating the rest of the calculations can be made after those two things are known.
The site of the proposed new building could prove to be an early sticking point.
Business Manager Mark Donnelly said Thursday night that the 17-acre parcel next to that is being eyed as the primary location for the school is inadequate for a middle school.
Donnelly said a middle school typically requires 30 acres, including the building, parking and athletic fields.
But others haven't ruled out the site, saying the footprint of the building can be reduced by designing a two-story structure, and athletic fields can be located off-site.
The district bought the property, which is behind on Pearl Road, several years ago specifically for a new middle school.
Other potential sites for the new school are at the current or middle school locations, or the closed , according to Naso.
Regardless, a firm is now in the process of taking soil samples at the Pearl Road site. Donnelly said results should be available around May 23.
He said he has also sent out notices to hire a planner -- an architect who would sketch out a preliminary plan for the building and guide the district through the process.
The school board has until July 9 to vote to put a bond issue on the November ballot.
The issue is estimated now at $72 million and would include building a new middle school and making improvements to the other school buildings, including better technology.
The issue would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $80 a year, but because other bond issues are expiring that now cost $72 a year, that homeowner would only see an increase of about $8 a year.
Before any decisions are made, the School Facilities Committee and school officials will host four public meetings to present plans and get input.
The meetings are set for May 15 and , May 16 at Center, May 22 at Albion and May 23 at . The sessions start at 6:30 p.m.
Naso also offered assurances that while officials have to move quickly to meet the July 9 election deadline, that won't be the case once that's done.
"We are not rushing through construction," Naso said. "We'll take our time and do it right."