District asks city for help with school building option

ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU)- An area school district says it's overcrowded and now, it's asking the city for help.

Thursday the Altoona School District Superintendent presented a solution to the problem at the Altoona City Council Meeting.

That solution is to expand by building a new $24-million elementary building on the city's east side.

“This school year our kindergarten class is 145 children. That’s the biggest we have ever had. Our class the year before is 120 so we are just seeing a gradual and sometimes big increase in our class size,” Superintendent Connie Biedron said.

Biedron says a growing student population has the walls of the elementary school nearly bursting at the seams. In order to deal with the issue the district is looking at its long term options.

Biedron said while the district is looking at several options, the preferred one to fix the overcrowding issues at the elementary school is to build on a site outside of town.

In order to lessen the financial blow to taxpayers of building at that site on Highway KB the district is asking the City of Altoona to help by using tax increment financing to bring water and sewer to that site.

“This is a solution that solves our parking problems and our space problem. However, it’s more costly than staying on our campus. So in looking at how we can bring that cost down one of the big costs is water and sewer hasn't been brought out to that area,” Biedron said.

Building from scratch on land the district already owns could run an estimated $24-million. Biedron says in order to lower costs the district is hoping the city will pitch in bringing water and sewer to the site. In order to do that City Administrator Mike Golat says the city would use tax increment financing.

“We are looking at whether or not it's in the cities best interest to make that investment. The city council would have to make the determination that the utilities extension would support future development and creation of tax increment,” Golat explained.

Right now the district doesn’t know the exact cost of bringing utilities out to the site of the proposed elementary school.

At the City Council meeting Thursday night the city did provide a very rough estimate. They say it could cost at least a quarter of a million dollars to bring water and sewer to the site.

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