To get the Wiley gym onto the bond (and out of their way), stadium boosters convinced WS/FCS to take on the gym construction as a rebranded STEAM classroom addition. Per seat, it’s three times the price of the average school expansion.
Reynolds athletic boosters wanted to build a privately-funded stadium on the campus of Wiley Middle School, but they needed Wiley’s gym out of the way first. Since a new gym for Wiley was not a pressing public need, the private fundraising group, Reynolds Home Field Advantage, originally planned to incorporate the cost of relocating the gym into the cost of the stadium.
As it became clear that the boosters would not meet fundraising goals, they looked for ways to have the public pay for a new Wiley gym in a different place. But the school system was obligated to direct tax dollars toward more urgent construction projects, such as a replacement school for Ashley Academy, which in early 2015 was still on the draft project list for the 2016 bond.
Compared with aging, crowded facilities across the district, a new gym for Wiley was hard to justify as a bond priority. But clever maneuvering caused that to change.
July 22, 2015. Having never been considered for the bond, Wiley appeared on the project list with a need for an “expand STEAM” improvement. Now called the Wiley Addition, the new building would add six classrooms dedicated to the school’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) magnet program. It would be located at street level on Northwest Boulevard and house a new gym and boiler, removing both of those facilities from the path of the proposed stadium. By raising school capacity by 100 seats and focusing on a magnet program, the Wiley project could better match the priorities of the bond. By December 2015, Wiley had secured a spot on the bond list and Ashley Academy had been dropped to “still being considered” status. Ashley construction was ultimately cut from the final project list.
August 13, 2018. The Action4Ashley Coalition filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S Department of Education alleging discriminatory, inadequate response to the need for a new building for Ashley Elementary. The complaint noted that Ashley was dropped from the 2016 bond and alleged evidence of discrimination in the way the bond money was allocated.
In order to justify its inclusion in the 2016 bond, the Wiley gym addition includes six STEAM classrooms that will add 100 seats to the capacity of the school.
Average cost per seat for all new and replacement schools and additions on the 2016 Bond, excluding Wiley and Lowrance-Paisley:
Cost per seat at Lowrance-Paisley, the second most expensive project (per seat) on the bond list:
Cost per new seat for the Wiley addition:
|Data from “WSFCS 2016 Bond Project List with Ashley, Inflation and Contingency,” April 26, 2016.|