ALBANY -- Voters in the Albany school district are being asked to go to the polls this summer and vote on a bond referendum.

The school district is requesting a nearly $17 million referendum to buy and renovate the former Albany Hospital into an early learning center. Early voting is underway right now through the August 9th primary election.

CentraCare closed the hospital at the end of 2015. The cost to buy the property is about $400,000.

Pat Overum works at ICS and has been helping the school district with the design and management of the project. He says renovating the existing building rather than building a new one makes a lot of sense.

For one, it exists, and although a portion of the building was built in the late 1960s it's an incredibly solid building.  It's also on a great site within the community that already possesses all the infrastructure with parking and all the other amenities that come with an existing property versus starting from scratch on a new property.

Besides renovating the existing building into 16 new classrooms the district would also build a new multi-purpose room onto the building.

He says the old hospital has good bones and can be converted into a school pretty easily.

What exists as client consultation rooms, and doctor's offices, and so on none of that is bearing and so it's very cosmetic and easily demoed.  And then we'll be rebuilding to create the 16 learning spaces and all the support spaces and office spaces that come along with an educational facility.

Steady growth in the district has resulted in them running out of room at their two existing elementaries in Albany and Avon.

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If the referendum passes, the design work would start this fall and take about six months followed by the construction work. Pre-school and Kindergarten students from Albany could be in the building as soon as late fall of 2024. The district would have to hire an additional 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 people to work there.

If the referendum passes, a $150,000 home would be taxed about $5.75 a month for 20 years starting in 2023.

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