A $33 million bond issue to pay for school improvements the state does not fund is up for a vote in Natrona County on Tuesday.
The bond would increase property taxes in Natrona County by about $22 annually per $100,000 of a home’s assessed valuation and would be paid off after 12 years, according to district estimates.
Money raised will be in addition to the $280 million in state funds Natrona County School District received to rebuild Kelly Walsh High School, renovate Natrona County High School and construct an academy-based learning center that will also house Roosevelt High School, an alternative school in Casper.
The $33 million bond will pay for school improvements the state does not fund in its regular school construction allocations. The bond will pay to tighten security at local schools, purchase high-end equipment for students, construct a new planetarium and rebuild swimming pools at Natrona County, Kelly Walsh and Midwest schools.
The bond is about 12 percent of the total cost of the ongoing school renovations in Natrona County, a smaller cut of the total project cost than in several recent bond measures passed by other Wyoming counties.
Voters in Rawlins approved a $19 million bond issue that totaled nearly 50 percent of the cost to renovate one high school in 2011. Voters in Laramie passed a $25 million bond in 2013, according to research by the Natrona County School District.
About $16.1 million — nearly half the bond issue — will go toward renovation and reconstruction of swimming pools at Midwest School and Kelly Walsh and Natrona County high schools.
At NCHS, the district proposes a new eight-lane pool with seating for about 300 spectators. The school’s current pool will be torn down this summer as part of ongoing renovations.
With funding from the bond, renovations to Kelly Walsh High School’s pool would improve the existing eight-lane pool and more than double its spectator capacity to 800 seats.
Midwest High School would receive a remodel to its swimming pool’s office and locker rooms and a new concrete base for the pool.
A $5.4 million science and technology center paid for by the school bond would replace the district’s current planetarium on North Poplar Street in Casper. The building could be used for 360-degree visualizations and streaming presentations.
About $4.8 million will help buy high-end equipment for the upcoming Center for Advanced and Professional Studies, or CAPS, the district’s new academy-based learning center under construction next to CY Middle School on Casper’s west side.
The state’s allocation does not cover much equipment needed to outfit the CAPS facility, where some high school students will likely spend half their days taking classes in one of four career-based academies the district is set to roll out over the next several years.
Among the equipment the bond would help buy:
Computer-controlled manufacturing machines
Woodworking and metalworking tools
Automotive diagnostic computers
Digital still and video cameras
Professional kitchen equipment
The Wyoming Schools Facility Commission will fund security cameras at main school entrances.
Beyond that, school districts are on their own, said Dennis Bay, Natrona County School District executive director for business services.
The bond will supply $4.8 million to pay for interior and exterior cameras, exterior lighting, landscape improvements, door controls and panic alarms at nearly every Natrona County school, according to district plans.
The bond will also fund security vestibules to control entrances into school buildings.