Written by Colin Gustafson
The Board of Education unanimously approved the 15-year plan last week. It calls for replacing three existing schools, building two new ones and making additions and alterations to 23 others.
One inducement mentioned in planning documents is a “lease-back” arrangement where the district would sell a new school to an investor, then rent the space.
The district also is contemplating borrowing to cover the cost of the projects and asking the state for more aid.
The plan comes as the city grapples with crowding in schools that are dark, poorly ventilated and too small, district officials said.
Thirty-six of the district’s 38 buildings are rated “unsatisfactory” under state-mandated guidelines. Many fail to meet disability-accessibility standards. Others have inadequate heating, ventilation and plumbing systems.
With an average age of 73 years, the schools are also the oldest in the state, district officials said.
Officials say the 25,000-student system is already overcrowded by 20 percent, and that a projected 12 percent enrollment growth over the next decade will worsen matters .
The first and most costly phase, from 2012 to 2017, is projected to cost $662 million and boost capacity by 2,839 seats.
It includes replacing School 22 and Gorton High School with larger new buildings near their present locations; expanding Riverside High School with a connection to Museum School 25 for a combined pre-K through grade 12 program; and making repairs in 29 other buildings.
The first phase alone is expected to create more than 13,560 jobs, according to Russell Davidson of KG&D Architects, which helped the district develop the facilities plan.