The Broken Bow Board of Education moved another step closer in preparation for a school facilities project Tuesday evening. In a special meeting, the board approved hiring BD Construction as the construction manager at-risk company.
The board met, also in a special meeting, Monday evening for the purpose of interviewing construction manager candidates. Three candidates were interviewed for the job, and the board agreed all were good candidates. However, the facilities committee recommended BD Construction and the board agreed.
The facilities committee also included several members of the community, including Dr. Loren Jacobsen and Mike Steckler, among others. Those community members were also involved in the interview process.
Once the construction management company was hired discussion turned to the bond resolution itself. BBPS Superintendent Dr. Virginia Moon stated that representatives from both sides of the last bond issue have met and discussed their ideas on the facilities issue. Elementary Principal Kim Jonas says they have verified at least one more year of more than 70 students enrolled in kindergarten, which means there will be four consecutive years of large classes.
Currently the students are served in three buildings: K-2 at North Park, 3-5 at Custer and 6-8 at the Middle School. Results of a community survey indicate the majority of the community does not want to see Custer closed. Therefore, Dr. Moon says it will remain part of the school system.
Ideas being discussed include a change in the way Custer is being used. Due to class sizes, the building will only be able to serve two grade levels. One plan being closely examined would house grades 5 and 6 at Custer, making the Middle School a true junior high facility. Custer contains nine regular education classrooms and two SPED/special use classrooms.
With this plan, North Park would then serve grades K-4. The needs to make that happen, as outlined by administration, are:
1. Eight additional classrooms to house 3rd and 4th grade.
2. Two additional classrooms to move 2nd grade back in to the main building.
3. Media center/computer lab large enough to accommodate K-4.
4. Multipurpose room for PE classroom and indoor recess (possible Community Safe Room), large enough to accommodate K-4.
5. Abandon the east annex and repurpose the west annex.
6. Four additional SPED/special use classrooms.
7. New mechanical system for the new and renovated space.
8. New roof for the new and renovated space.
9. Renovate the existing building.
10. Enlarge the current kitchen.
11. Improve the entrance and security system.
The district has already qualified for Qualified Construction Bonds in the amount of $5.83 million. The bonds would be at .5 percent. Should the district elect to take the full amount of bond money, it would mean a tax levy in the district of 9.45 cents. A project at a cost of $4.995 would create a levy of 8.10 cents.
A year ago taxpayers in the district were paying a little more than 7 cents for two bonds. This school year the second of those two bonds will be paid off leaving the district with no bond levy. Board president Michelle Zlomke reminded the board that the current bond levy would end before the new one began, should the bond pass, leaving no overlap between the two.
The Qualified Construction Bond would be a 15-year bond, which combined with the low interest rate will save the district literally ‘thousands of dollars.’ Board members say that makes this bond even more attractive.
“We hope we can get enough community support to pass this one,” said board member and facilities committee member Ken Myers. “It is about half the money of the last one.”
Dr. Moon says the board was worked diligently at trying to increase the building fund for such a project. However, at the current rate the building fund only raises about $160,000 per year, “so coming up with $5 million would take a long time.”
“Our other solution is more portables,” Myers added. “We would spend 60 percent of this amount of money to put in enough portables to meet our needs. That is just a poor use of the district’s money.”
The Qualified School Construction Bonds must be issued by Dec. 31. In order to get everything in order in time to meet that deadline, a bond election is planned for Sept. 13. It will be a special poll election. However, the board has not at this time passed a resolution to that effect. That is planned for the regular meeting Monday, July 18 at 7 p.m.
Board member and finance committee chair Tracy Popp reminded both the board members and the audience in attendance that there is cost associated with any election - whether it is a special election or not. She says that a successful bond election in September would also allow the board to be able to handle the funds in this budget year.
The project the board has in mind would be a two-summer project, and would be scheduled for completion by the fall of 2013.
Remaining on the facilities topic, Operations Manager Joe Shea updated the board on the status of the projects his staff has been working on throughout the summer. Shea says the light bulb project is almost complete, and the installation of new windows is getting started at the Middle School and Custer. He says not all the new windows will be in by the first day of school, but his staff is working on getting classroom windows done first.
Shea says they are also making good progress on installing new HVAC systems, and the locker rooms at the high school have all been sandblasted and cleaned and are in the process of being painted.
“We were fortunate to have the money in the budget this year for some of these projects, like the windows” said Shea. “Those will continue to save the district money year after year.”
Dr. Moon noted that the principals and Shea have been working all summer on their budgets, looking line by line and what could be cut or trimmed. She reminded the board that once the bond issue is done, the budget is next.