Archive for Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bond issue price tag: $22.9 million

A new Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center is the largest item on the Baldwin School District's $22.9 million bond issue.

A new Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center is the largest item on the Baldwin School District's $22.9 million bond issue.

June 5, 2008

An official price tag was approved by the Baldwin School Board Monday night. The 2008 bond issue is priced at $22.9 million.

The cost was approved unanimously at the meeting when the board voted to make a resolution that will be voted on June 23.

"They made a motion last night to basically move forward with a bond issue for the November election at $22.9 million and to give direction to John McArthur, the financial advisor, to create a resolution for the ballot," Supt. Paul Dorathy said.

School Board President Alison Bauer spoke up at Monday's meeting and said she didn't want to cut any items off the bond issue. After the meeting, she clarified what she said.

"This is what the facilities' committee recommended and the board is pretty much behind that," Bauer said. "Rather than start chunking the bond issue up into smaller parts, we are going to put it before the community and let the taxpayers of our school district decide.

"If they decide in its favor, then that's all for the good of our district," she said. "If they should decide not, then we may have to rethink it. Rather than us rethinking before the community has spoken, we'd like to hear what they think first."

Before making the decision Monday night, the board met with an attorney in executive session for 15 minutes. They came out of it and the attorney, Robert Perry, who works with the district's financial advisor John McArthur, helped the board with word issues on the resolution.

Tom Manning of Manning Construction, the group that was hired by the district for the construction if the bond issue passes, was also at the meeting. He informed the board of the increase in steel prices at the last meeting. Dorathy said that was the main reason for the slightly higher cost of the bond issue.

"I am comfortable going to the public saying the reason it went from $22.5 to $22.9 million is specifically because steel prices are going through the roof," Dorathy said. "In order to protect the taxpayer, it's better to let them know what that cost is up front, rather than us going through the whole process and coming down in the spring and saying 'sorry the bids came in higher than the amount of money you voted for.' We would rather come to the public with how much it's really going to cost."

School Board Member Ande Parks, who served on the facilities' committee, wasn't too concerned about the increased price, but was happy to keep the size of the project the same.

"It's not exactly the figure the facilities' committee had in mind, but we have not changed the scope so I'm comfortable that we've fulfilled what the committee meant to do," Parks said. "The only thing we've done is allow for some inflation. I hope the community will understand that we can't control the price of steel in China. It's going to cost a wee bit more, but I'll think we'll be OK."

The $22.9 million bond issue includes a new 480-student Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center and early childhood center. That building would include the BESPC students, the 4-year-old program students, Parents as Teachers organization and possibly Rainbow Experience Preschool.

Also included on the committee's recommendation was a new performing arts center. It would be around 10,000 square feet and would hold around 600 people. Other items are four baseball and softball fields, a practice track and field facility, roof and updated heating and cooling systems at Baldwin Junior High School and technology and security needs.

The original price of the school district's facilities' committee recommendation was $22.5 million. That was recommended to the board in March.

At the last meeting, the board was given a $24.1 million cost on the bond issue. On Monday, they agreed to take out the street extension that was costing around $1.2 million. That extension took Elm Street east of the proposed BESPC, where it connects with Lawrence Street, and connects it with Bullpup Drive.

Parks said the new price of the street extension was a bit of a sticker shock to the board and they really wanted to keep the price near the original recommendation.

"That made us a little uncomfortable, because the committee worked really hard trying to decide not just what our needs are but what the community will support," Parks said. "One million in the grand scheme isn't a big percentage, but the committee thought a lot about what our community will support and we don't want to go over that more than we had to. We'll find a way to get the streets done somehow."

Dorathy agreed, saying the board will find a way to finance the roads.

"I believe, in the end, the district will find another way to finance that, rather than through the bond issue," Dorathy said. "That adds $1 million to the bond. I think the board is going to seek another way of paying for those streets. I think we can do that if we can cooperate with the city."

At the June 23 meeting, the school board will vote on the resolution for the bond issue.

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