Archive for Thursday, September 18, 2008

Elementary school ahead of schedule

Construction continues at the site of the new elementary school.

Construction continues at the site of the new elementary school.

September 18, 2008

Rainy weather during the spring as well as early September hasn't slowed construction on the Eudora USD 491's $27 million elementary school.

Don Swartz, the district's construction consultant, told the Eudora Board of Education at its monthly meeting Thursday the project was five to six weeks ahead of schedule.

"It's pretty amazing how much they have been able to work through and around the weather," Superintendent Don Grosdidier said. "I didn't anticipate that we would be as far ahead as we are with the building part of the equation. But we can potentially lose ground as quickly as we gain it."

One potential snag that could cause a delay is the timeframe in which the district will be able to dispose of the Durr House, which sits at the northwestern side of the property.

It will take an estimated 30 days to move the home from the property, and though the district had sold the home in mid-August to a private buyer, Robert and Virginia Durr have until midnight Oct. 1 to vacate the house. The Durrs still are waiting for their new home across the street to be ready.

The district's contract with the private buyer could have been voided Sept. 1 because the Durrs had not vacated the premises, but as of Wednesday it had not yet been voided.

Eudora residents as well as members of the school board have expressed hope that the home - which at 109-years-old is one of Eudora's oldest - could be relocated rather than demolished.

Grosdidier said the likelihood of that scenario was slim.

"We were hopeful that there would be time to move the house and that we would be able to get in there before now," he said. "If we would have gotten in there earlier it would have meant that the house could have been moved. It would have been good for everybody."

The area where the home sits will be the parking lot and entryway to the new school. Grosdidier said the delay would not affect the construction of the facility, but would slow the significant amount of grading that needs to be done to level the ground.

In other construction updates, Swartz told the board that masons said they would be finished constructing the new school's shell by December.

The building could conceivably be enclosed for winter and workers could continue work inside.

Furthermore, bids for expansions at West Elementary School, the high school and the construction of the new tech center will go out to bid in February. Bid approvals hopefully would occur in March.

In other actions, the board:

¢ Received an update on full-time enrollment numbers.

Current estimates have FTE numbers at 1,383.8. The board budgeted for 1,392 students based on projections in April from Rob Schwarz of RSP Associates

The district receives $4,433 per student, meaning they could be about $50,000 short.

Though kindergarten attendance is up to the degree that the district had to add another class, kindergartners count as just half of a student. However, students who receive individual education plans count as a whole student.

Given that there could be some kindergarten students in the middle of the IEP process, numbers still could go up before the Monday, when FTE numbers are made final.

Grosdidier said the low numbers did not alarm the district.

"It's not a huge number, but it will have some impact on the budget," he said. "Anything under the 30 kids that we budgeted for is not a good thing, but this isn't devastating. Plus, the assessed value numbers are still out and we have to get those numbers before we know what the impact will be on the budget."

¢ Decided to begin the naming process at next month's board meeting for the new Elementary school and early learning center.

The district likely won't name anything after any specific person, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't honor someone by naming after them parts within a given building.

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