Task force answers questions on school proposal


Questions about a proposed $18 million addition to Wayne Junior-Senior High School received some answers during a task force meeting held Monday at the Junior-Senior High gymnasium.
About 30 people were in attendance along with community facility task force members and Wayne Community Schools superintendent Mark Lenihan to discuss concerns about the proposed building project, which would add a new lecture hall, a second competition gymnasium, build a new preschool center, provide additional parking and address other building needs at the school.
Some of the biggest concerns about the proposal are the costs involved, and Lenihan told The Wayne Herald that the task force addressed some of the needs the school is facing.
"We identified the three needs area based on our programming and our current situation with our facilities," he said, noting a facilities study done a few years ago that identified areas of concern. "There are some projects that can be done in the short term, and we wanted to communicate that to the people who were there."
With an initial price tag of $18 million, a number of taxpayers in the district, particularly rural land owners, are concerned about seeing their tax bill go up, especially with a 11.9 cent increase in the district levy to fund the project.
In his presentation, Lenihan noted that Wayne is the 42nd lowest-spending district among 250 school districts in the state on a per-pupil basis. Still, about 60 percent of the local taxes for the district come from agriculture land valuation, which has seen a dramatic increase in recent years, and Wayne has less land valuation than a number of neighboring districts, while at the same time educating twice as many students.
Lenihan said the district and the community of Wayne is showing signs of growth, and the district needs to take a long-term look at how to serve those needs in the future.
"We talked a little more about what we feel are the important needs for our facilities," he said. "Looking down the road 25-30 years, what do we want our facilities to look like?"
The task force sought additional feedback from the community, but Lenihan said a decision on what the next step should be was not made at Monday's meeting.
"This committee was put together for the purpose of getting more feedback from the community and hear what the concerns were and try to answer those questions," he said. "As far as where we go from here, we'll report back to the school board and see what happens next. We want to continue to talk with the public and educate them on what is being considered and help them understand the objective of what we're trying to do, and I think we're still in that phase."
Lenihan said he will have a full report on findings from Monday's task force meeting at the next meeting of the Wayne Community Schools Board of Education on Monday, May 9. He said another task force meeting may happen, but a date has not yet been confirmed.