Revelers perform the song Topsy-Turvy during rehearsal for the school’s production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame April 26 at Linn-Mar High School in Marion. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)
Caleb Brock, in the role of Dom Claude Frollo, makes his entrance during the rehearsal of the school production of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame on April 26 at Linn-Mar high school in Marion. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)
Caleb Brock, as Dom Claude Frollo, performs during a rehearsal for the school’s production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame April 26 at Linn-Mar High School in Marion. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)
Students don choir robes during the school production rehearsal of The Hunchback of Notre Dame April 26 at Linn-Mar High School in Marion. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)
The Notre-Dame choir performs the “Bells of Notre-Dame” during the rehearsal of the school production of the Hunchback of Notre-Dame on April 26 at Linn-Mar high school in Marion. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)
MARION — A five-year facilities plan for Linn-Mar schools includes the construction of a new administration building, a larger performance hall and an indoor sports center added to the high school, among other projects.
Linn-Mar High School associate principal Kim Buelt said she hopes the community will support the projects. “It’s not just what happens in the classroom that has value,” she says.
Linn-Mar tries to “produce, create and encourage” well-rounded students who participate in athletics and fine arts programs, Buelt said.
The estimated total cost of these projects is between $48 million and $60 million, which includes design costs, construction costs, and capital expenditures.
Funding will come from the following streams:
- Public Education and Recreation Levy, or PERL, a small levy that can be used for public recreation areas such as playgrounds and tennis courts.
- Physical Facilities and Equipment Levy, or PPEL, which can be used to improve school buildings and grounds, purchase safety technology and equipment, and implement energy-saving measures.
- Funding from Secure an Advanced Vision for Education, or SAVE, which can be used for infrastructure. According to the Iowa Department of Education, this funding stream was formerly known as the Statewide School Infrastructure Sales and Services Tax and also known as the Statewide School Infrastructure Sales and Services Tax. local sales and service option for school infrastructure.
The district does not plan to have a bond issue to pay for any of the projects or raise taxes, Superintendent Shannon Bisgard said.
Shannon Bisgard Linn-Mar Superintendent
A Facilities Advisory Committee comprised of students, parents, community members, teachers, building administrators, OPN architects, and school board members began meeting in May 2021 to develop these projects. The committee made a recommendation to the school board in December, which was approved.
The facilities plan also includes parking expansion at Linn-Mar High School where students park in the neighborhoods surrounding the high school as there are not enough parking spaces in the school grounds. school, Buelt said.
“We don’t like that students have to park in the streets. We try to be good neighbours,” Buelt said.
Expanding the parking lot would be safer for students who park a few blocks from the school and may have extracurricular activities that don’t end until after dark, Buelt said.
The expansion of the high school’s north parking lot – near the football stadium – is the first project planned for the summer of 2023.
The next project expected to be completed by fall 2023 is to relocate the high school tennis courts – possibly to Oak Ridge Middle School, 4901 Alburnett Road, Marion.
There are currently six tennis courts at the high school, which are collapsing, and there is no room for bleachers, said Linn-Mar High School athletic director Tonya Moe.
The site of Linn-Mar High School’s current tennis courts was once a landfill, Moe said. “The ground below is not stable, and we’ve known that for years,” she said.
The new tennis courts would include spectator seating and span eight courts, Bisgard said.
A new administrative building will be completed by spring 2024.
“We need to remove administration from this place to create more space for future secondary school growth,” Bisgard said. “Everything we build will be functional, useful and not just bells and whistles. It’s important for us to have a useful space, but it will by no means be a showpiece.
District officials plan to construct the Excelsior Middle School Administration Building, 3555 10th St., Marion.
The current administration building – the Learning Resource Center, 2999 N. 10th St., Marion – was built in 1948 when 17 one-room rural schools joined together to become the Marion Rural Independent School, the spokesperson for the District, Kevin Fry. It was renamed Linn-Mar in the early 1960s.
The Learning Resource Center currently houses the administrative offices for the district as well as the COMPASS Alternative High School and Venture Academics program, a project-based learning program.
Performing Arts Venue
A new performing arts hall will be completed by fall 2025, increasing capacity from 833 to 1,200 seats.
“We’ve outgrown our current auditorium,” Bisgard said. “It’s constantly overflowing.
A second phase of projects includes:
- Addition of an indoor activity center to the secondary school with an expected completion date of fall 2026.
- Renovation of the Learning Resource Center – the current administrative building – of the secondary school by fall 2027.
- Expansion of the south parking lot of the school, where the tennis courts are currently located.
The current indoor sports facility consists of three main courts and a small sports hall with a single court. If spring sports can’t be played outdoors because of the weather, it’s a big shake-up to make room for everyone indoors, Moe said.
“Sometimes we’re there until 9 p.m., depending on how many teams have to practice,” she said. “Kids, families and coaches need to be flexible when the weather is bad. This indoor facility would help us to have more practices at the same time.
School leaders also dream of creating a strong intramural program for students who don’t want to go out for school teams, Moe said.
“We would like to start now, but we just don’t have enough space and time in the day,” Moe said.
Additional future needs for the district include land acquisition for a future west side elementary building, increased preschool classroom space, and an additional elementary building.
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