Meridian Library District officials are partnering with the West Ada School District and YMCA in hopes of building a multipurpose library at the site of new elementary school.
On Nov. 3, library officials are asking voters to approve a $12 million bond issue to build two new library branches. If approved, the approximately 20,000 square-foot South Meridian branch would be built on a section of donated land near the intersection of Amity and Eagle Roads.
West Ada officials are already building the new Hillsdale Elementary on that land, which property owners Marti Hill, Dixie Cook and David Turnbull donated. Plans already call for a new YMCA campus on the property, and Meridian Library officials have agreed to build a library there, which would serve Hillsdale Elementary students and the public, if their bond passes.
More than two-thirds of voters will need to vote yes on the project to meet the supermajority threshold for approval.
“The opportunity with the YMCA, school district and the city is just so attractive because of the synergies of our missions, as well as the fiscal savings,” Library Director Gretchen Caserotti said. “We’ll be getting a lot more for the money because we’re able to leverage partnerships on the front and back ends of the project.”
Library officials estimate they will save $1 million by partnering on the project and taking advantage of donated land.
West Ada spokesman Eric Exline confirmed the partnership and the district’s willingness to partner up for the library.
“We will get some more robust facilities than we would have built,” Exline said. “The library is going to be more expensive than a normal elementary school library. There are benefits from a facilities standpoint and benefit’s from a programs standpoint.”
Both camps said they have options and contingency plans if the library bond fails in November.
The South Meridian library branch’s design and features have yet to be approved, but preliminary plans call for a large children’s area, a quiet reading floor, business center, café and teen room.
Caserotti said library officials have reviewed other examples of public libraries partnering with schools for other joint-use projects and will incorporate the best practices.
There will be secure entrances to the library designed so the public will not be able to enter the school, while students will enter the library directly from a separate entrance than the public, she said.
Plans also call for a new North Meridian branch, although that side of the project will not be paired with a school.
Caserotti said the expansion plans were designed by a citizens committee and came in response to “explosive” growth within the city and increased demand on library services and facilities.
If approved, the bond issue would run for 20 years and cost homeowners $12.48 for every $100,000 of a home’s taxable valuation — or about $25 a year, over 20 years, for the owner of a $200,000 home.
The partnership would also mean library staff could design extra literacy programs and assessments to benefit students and staff the facility with a credentialed librarian, benefits many traditional school libraries don’t enjoy, Caserotti said.
“It’s all about potential and all about improving learning opportunities and strengthening literacy skills for everyone, especially our young students,” Caserotti said.
Nov. 3 is also the same day West Ada patrons will decide whether to approve a $14 million supplemental levy for the school district. In order for the supplemental to pass, a simple majority of voters will need to approve it.
When the partnership for the donated land off Eagle Road at Amity was initially announced, The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation donated $4 million toward construction of the multipurpose campus, while YMCA officials announced their facility would also serve as the new school’s gymnasium.
An overview of the Meridian Library’s bond issue and plans are available at the library’s website.
Disclosure: Idaho Education News is funded through a grant from The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation.
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West Ada officials are naming their new schools after historic one-room school houses that used to serve the region, Exline said. Victory, Willow Creek and Hillsdale are all examples of former one-room schools.