Committee says yes to $22.5 million
Bond issue to include new BESPC, auditorium, etc.
More than nine months of discussion and analysis of the Baldwin School District's facilities came to a close Tuesday night.
The end result of the district's facilities' committee was a recommendation to the Baldwin School Board about what should be on its upcoming bond issue. The recommendation carries a $22.5 million price tag.
"I am very pleased with the recommendation that we made," said Ande Parks, facilities' committee member and school board member. "I want the community to know that this committee really looked at a ton of options and we didn't take it lightly. We really looked hard at our priorities and our fiscal responsibilities. I think we came up with something that reflects our needs without asking too much of our patrons."
The recommendation will be made to the school board at Monday's special meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the District Office. The vote to recommend the proposed bond issue wasn't unanimous, but it was an overwhelming consensus.
A total of 90 percent (18 people) of the committee members at Tuesday's meeting supported the recommendation. The other two members neither supported, nor opposed the idea. Supt. Paul Dorathy was happy with the percentage of members that supported the plan.
"I was pleased with how strong the consensus was for the plan that the committee came up with," Dorathy said. "I thought they had good reasoning behind what they finally chose. I think they used their time well to come up with a good plan."
The plan at the last meeting totaled $28 million, but it was trimmed back before Tuesday. The largest chunk of the $22.5 million bond issue comes from the new Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center and early childhood center.
That building will cost around $14 million, which includes the soft costs. All of the prices that the DLR Group architects gave included those soft cots. Those included design fees, furniture, cost increases and several other costs associated with any project.
Also included on the committee's recommendation was a new performing arts center. That cost would be $2.9 million for an 8,000 square foot center that would seat 600 people.
Other items were the baseball and softball fields ($2 million), practice track facility ($560,000) and technology and security needs ($800,000). The last items were renovations to Baldwin Junior High School ($2 million). Those renovations include a new roof, heating and cooling system and corridor renovations.
"I think it meets the immediate needs for all of the kids in the district," Dorathy said. "I think it fits well together with the long-range plan. We ultimately wanted to come out of this with a 10-year plan. I think they accomplished what the board asked them to do."
The long-range plan includes a new BJHS and district operations center for $28 million. That bond issue could be voted on in 2011. The new BJHS would be located near the Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center, which is also where the new BESPC and ball fields will also be located. That area west of town has enough space to fit all three schools and the ball fields, with room to spare, according to drawings by the architects.
The final piece to the long-range plan would be renovations to Baldwin High School and the current BJHS to make that campus specifically a BHS campus. That bond issue would cost $6.1 million in 2013, according to the plan.
"This is a good master plan of what you could do with your facilities and how you could orientate them," said Kevin Greischer, DLR architect. "There is no set plan in place or timeline for this."
The other big news to come from Tuesday's meeting was a change in timeline for the bond issue vote. At the last meeting, it was decided that a May election could be done and it would probably be a mail-in ballot. That changed Tuesday.
Dorathy and the architects both said that May would be too soon for a vote. They also said the district wouldn't be allowed to do a mail-in ballot until June, because of state mandated timelines and regulations.
So, it was decided that a November election would be the best possible time for a vote. Despite the general election that will be taking place, that was when the architects advised holding a walk-in ballot.
"It gives the public more time to look at the information and be able to make a good decision," Dorathy said. "It gives us a little more time to get that job done properly, so that the public understands all of the reasoning behind the bond issue.
"The other good part of that is since it's a November election, it won't cost the district anything," Dorathy said. "If we did a mail-in ballot, it would cost about $12,000. A walk-in ballot would be about $5,000."
Baldwin's financial advisor, John McArthur, attended the meeting Tuesday. He distributed a sheet that explained the cost associated with the bond issue. A $22.5 million bond would cost a household $275 a year on a home with an assessed value of $200,000. That would be around $23 per month.
"I was very relieved to see the bond issue they are proposing to the board of education go down from $28 million to $22.5 million," McArthur said. "I think that is very responsible of the committee. I also think it takes care of the vast majority of the current needs of the district."
(Editor's note: The Signal will have a story next week regarding the need for a new auditorium.)