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Local

School board close to decision on Dixon High

Projected utility costs, survey results shared at meeting

Margo Empen
Margo Empen

DIXON – Within the next month, seven people will be called upon to decide the fate of Dixon High School, a building with almost nine decades of history.

The school board has three options to address the aging school: bring the building up to code, build a new school, or remodel. The estimated costs are $22 million, $70 million and $80 million, respectively.

During the board's meeting Wednesday, President Pam Tourtillott said the 3 years spent collecting data on the project is nearing an end, and the board soon will make a final decision.

"I'm pleased to say that I think we are coming to a close of all the data needed to make a decision, and as a board, we are excited that in the next couple weeks, we will publicly announce what we can do to incorporate change ourselves," she said.

Superintendent Margo Empen said she expects a special meeting in April will address the decision.

The two most important factors are what will provide the best learning environment for students and what will be most fiscally responsible.

"I think to have a vision and to know how to work to achieve that vision, it's very exciting," Empen said.

Kevin Schultz, the district's director of buildings and grounds, presented the board with utility figures for each option.

The current high school's utilities cost about 82 cents per square foot, from boilers and limited air conditioning. That's about $145,000 a year.

Even though a new high school would have air conditioning throughout, the energy cost per square foot would be cheaper, he said.

In a new building, the cost would be about $150,000, or $115,000 a year if a geothermal system is installed; a remodeled structure would cost about $160,000, or $130,000 with geothermal.

Empen also presented the latest numbers gathered from a survey of district support staff and paraprofessionals.

About 75 percent of the 32 support staff who took the survey favored building a new high school. They represent 54 percent of the total support staff.

In the Dixon Educational Support Personnel Association survey, 36 paraprofessional took the survey, with 57.6 percent favoring a new high school and 42.4 percent favoring a remodel.

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