As challenging as 2020-21 has been on the school community, the district is encouraged to see progress in the efforts to resume activities that point toward a more traditional school experience in the near future. Along with the enthusiasm for good things to come, Westville School District is pleased to announce several facility improvements at Westville High School that will be getting underway this spring and summer. The following information is designed to help provide information about these projects and this exciting time for our school district.
What work will be included in the facility improvements at Westville High School?
The facility improvements at Westville High School include a 15,000 square foot building addition and field renovations for the athletic sports complex (football field, all-weather track, baseball, and softball fields).
What led to the district’s decision to make the facility improvements at this time?
Westville School District initiated a long range facility plan in the summer of 2020. A combination of factors led to the district’s decision to move forward at this time which include:
- Financial stewardship has allowed for an opportunity to plan for improvements. The district has operated within its budget for years which has provided healthy fund balances while at the same time showing decreased property tax rates over the last five consecutive years. This planning is the result of fiscally responsible oversight by several different school board terms along with current and prior administrative leaders.
- Prior commitments to academic and performing arts programming have been made which include - maintaining all performing arts positions at all schools even when opportunities for attrition were presented, increasing the number of teachers at the Kindergarten thru Second grade levels, creating the Piano Lab at Giacoma, deploying a new district-wide math series in 2016, investing in Fundations ELA curriculum for K-3, securing the technological infrastructure to support learning before and during the pandemic, investing in faculty and staff with a fair and appropriate 5 year collective bargaining agreement, continuing to provide Dual Enrollment opportunities for all high school students at no tuition cost to families, and providing expanded summer learning opportunities in response to the pandemic in 2021.
- Prior capital investments have been made in facilities at all schools. Boilers have been replaced at Giacoma and WJHS since 2012, new roofs have been installed at all buildings, gym floors have been replaced at all facilities, AC has been installed at the WHS new gymnasium, and student parking lot renovations were completed in 2016.
- There was strong community support expressed for athletic facility improvements during several town hall meetings during 2018 and 2020 when discussion occurred concerning the proposed 1% School Facility Sales Tax which had substantial support from Westville voters.
- The unique timing of the pandemic created a situation where early on in the 2020-21 school year it appeared unlikely that many sports would take place and that it would be a good time for construction with minimal disruption to student activities. Additionally, the economic response to the pandemic has created historically low interest rates and an opportune time to refinance debt and invest in capital development.
What is the projected cost for the facility improvements?
The cumulative cost of both the building addition and the renovations to the athletic fields is just under 8.9 million dollars.
How has the district planned to pay for the project?
The district has developed a plan that will utilize existing fund balances combined with re-financing and extending current bonds while interest rates are at some of the lowest levels the economy has generated in decades.
What is the estimated tax impact for homeowners?
The district has continued to show commitment to fiscal conservatism in developing the plan for this project. Even if property values plateau in Westville School District or grow at lower than trend data suggests, there should be minimal impact to the property tax rate.
What is the projected completion date for the projects?
Pending major weather disruptions or unforeseen delays, the football field should be ready to host events in the fall of 2021 and the building addition should be capable of hosting wrestling practices by November of 2021.
Where can I go to find out more if I have further questions?
Further questions can be directed to the district superintendent, Dr. Seth Miller at 217-267-3141.