Archive for Thursday, September 20, 2007

Facility costs are revealed for district

September 20, 2007

Money finally became an issue last week.

After months of hearing about the problems in the Baldwin School District, the facilities' committee finally got to see dollar figures attached to the solutions.

"So far the committee had done a lot to address and point out those needs," Supt. Paul Dorathy said. "They have not prioritized those needs yet. Then, of course, you have to put a price tag on all of those needs. I think this was the first time the committee got an idea of how much these things might cost."

Amy Cleavinger, facilities' committee member and Baldwin City Council president, said the costs were good to hear after months of discussion.

"It was nice to have a feel of where we are at right now," Cleavinger said. "It was a nice starting point."

Some of the figures were a bit surprising to members of the facilities' committee. Leigh Anne Bathke thought $30 million was a lot for a bond issue, but she found out others thought differently.

"I went in not knowing what to expect," Bathke said. "To me, $30 million is a lot of money and I'm sure it is to a lot of people. I've talked to people in the community and they said it's not that big of deal. This means we need more input from the community."

DLR Group Architect Kevin Greischer once again represented the firm at the Sept. 12 meeting. He identified areas of renovation and possible additions that could be done at four of the six schools. Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center and Vinland Elementary School had no immediate needs.

The total cost of the renovations and additions was estimated at either $26,548,908 or $29,281,708. The difference in cost depends on the size of a possibly new Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center.

"I think judging from the survey questions, that (BESPC) is number one on most people's list," Cleavinger said. "That building has many deficiencies that we need to address."

Greischer did tell the committee that he did not figure out what it might cost to renovate BESPC, because he felt it would cost nearly the same. He also said he can try to figure that cost for the next meeting.

The current BESPC holds around 240 students. Greischer said the new building that would hold 240 students, would have enough space for in the gymnasium, cafeteria, commons and other areas to hold 480 students in the building. However it would just have enough classroom space for 240 student, but classrooms could be added fairly easily to the building.

Dorathy agreed with Cleavinger, but said the BESPC isn't the only concern of the committee's.

"The consensus of the group that was there that evening was that the primary center had the highest priority," Dorathy said, noting it gained 80 percent of the votes cast, far more than any other item. "There were many other needs on there."

The two other needs that the committee voted for were a new performing arts center and renovations at Baldwin Junior High School.

Greischer estimated the cost for a 750-seat performing arts center to be at $3,600,000, while the BJHS renovations added up to $5,665,400.

The BJHS renovations included a new roof and renovating the kitchen, cafeteria, library, gym, locker rooms, hallways, a few classrooms and the band, choral and drama room. It also included renovating the heating and cooling system in the building.

"I'm not surprised at how much the bond might cost, because of what is attached to it," School Board Member Ande Parks said. "We are not talking about all of those things. We are not going to go to the public with those numbers. We need to sit down and make some hard choices, then attach numbers to those priorities and do what is feasible and what our students need."

Dorathy and John McArthur, district financial advisor, wanted the community to understand how much a bond of this size will cost them.

They figured the $26 million estimate would cost $167 per year on a house that cost $100,000 or $334 for a $200,000 home. The $29 million bond would cost $180 per year on a $100,000 house or $360 on a $200,000 home.

Near the end of last week's meeting, Cleavinger asked Greischer if he included any sports facilities on the possible bond. He said no, but he would try to include something for the next meeting.

"I think we will have a discussion about a track and the ball fields," Dorathy said. "We will continue discussing the things we've already talked about. I think we will try to start putting together what we think a prioritized list for the board might be.

"The ultimate goal here in December is to come up with a 10-15 year plan that will show when these needs need to be addressed," Dorathy said. "There will be a timeline for these needs. We want a good long-range facility plan."

The next meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Oct 10 at the District Office.

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