Archive for Thursday, April 26, 2007

District hears bond estimate

April 26, 2007

The Eudora USD 491 Board of Education received a clearer view Monday of the possible cost of a fall 2008 bond issue.

DLR Group architect Kevin Greischar presented the board with what would be a $45 million question if the district includes everything it defined in an eight-tier list earlier in the year.

Greischar also presented the board with a preliminary construction timeline.

The first project on DLR's timeline is a 1,000-student first- through fifth-grade elementary school.

Greischar estimated the cost of the building with a fall 2009 opening in mind.

"That is going to be the first project to be done because it is the most important with what is going on," Greischar said.

After constructing the grade school, the district would stagger the construction of other projects within the bond until 2010.

"I always want to keep none of the project's bidding on top of each other," Greischar said.

According to his numbers, allowing a cost of $157.50 per square foot, the new grade school could cost the district $24.8 million. Greischar said he included a 5-percent padding for inflation within the total.

"We spent some time very specifically on the elementary school because it's the largest component."

Greischar next presented an estimated cost for improvements to Eudora Middle School. Based on community input, the district plans to build a sixth-grade attendance center at the school and improve space issues within the main building. Greischar's estimate pegged the middle school's cost at $3.21 million.

At Eudora High School, Greischar laid out plans for what could be a $6.6 million worth of improvements including a 750-seat auditorium.

Board member Mark Chrislip questioned why the square footage for the auditorium would be so much more expensive.

The relatively higher expense would be because of a specially shaped ceiling, ensuring acoustics and other special considerations the district would need with an auditorium and opposed to classroom, Greischar said.

The estimate also included a $2.9 million stadium and a $3.4 million technical education center and $378,000 worth of improvements to Eudora West Elementary to turn it into a kindergarten and preschool center.

The district has plans for the stadium already drafted, Greischar said.

The bond projects that are lower on the priority list wouldn't be built until 2010.

The total for the bond, allowing for 5-percent inflation over each of the next three years, came to $45,990,888.

Before Greischar's presentation, Superintendent Marty Kobza presented possible strategies to pay for the bond.

In his presentation, Kobza presented two scenarios. Each scenario looked at what it would take to keep the district's overall mill rate steady if the district only had a five-percent increase in assessed valuation until the time it had to pay for the bond. Historically, the district has had between 10- to 11-percent increases in assessed valuation, Kobza said.

In the first scenario, Kobza looked at the bond costing the district the estimated $40 million.

"Understand that these are very conservative estimates," Kobza said.

A $40 million bond would mean a 2.28-mill increase to the district's bonded interest payments.

In order to keep the district's overall mill rate steady, the district would need to reduce its capital outlay bonding authority from 8 to 6 mills.

If the project came to $45 million the district would see a 5.5-mill increase in its bonded interest payments.

To free up the funds in capital outlay ---- which go toward non-personnel and capital improvement projects within the district ---- the board could start trimming the possible bond package or incorporating current capital outlay projects into the bond.

In particular, the district could incorporate a lease-purchase agreement for computer technology made with Apple Inc., Kobza said.

If the district does include the lease-purchase agreement and the bond passes, the district would be able to use state aid, which would cover 37 percent of the district's total bonded interest payments.

Even in the worst-case scenario, the district would maintain the outlay funds to eliminate any impact to instructional or vital programs, Kobza said.

With the estimate in front of them, the board members will take another look at the bond priorities.

"Personally, I think we need to focus on a $45 million bond issue, but I think we really need to take a hard look at the components of that," board member Kenny Massey said.

The board took no action following the report.

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