When Will a Third Richland High School Be Built?
The Richland School District keeps hearing the same question:
When are you going to build a third comprehensive high school?
Rick Schulte, the Richland School District Superintendent, assured all interested parties that an additional high school is part of the District’s long range facility plan.
But there is a lengthy process which must be methodically followed.
School districts depend on state matching funds in order to build new schools. State matching funds account for as much as 45% of the cost of a new school. For an additional high school in the Richland School District, this could be $45,000,000 or more of state money.
The District will not be eligible for sufficient state matching funds for a new high school until sometime in the 2022 to 2025 time frame. The state funding formula requires school districts to have excess student enrollment and only takes into account students actually enrolled, not anticipated future enrollment. To qualify for state matching money, the District must have enough enrollment to justify not only classrooms, but gyms, theaters, shops, labs, offices, and other spaces that a comprehensive high school needs.
The Richland School Board has discussed placing a bond issue before voters in 2021 or 2022. This timing will allow the District to:
- Qualify for the maximum amount of state matching funds.
- Stagger construction projects to allow for effective construction management.
- Maintain an affordable, relatively consistent tax rate.