Archive for Thursday, September 17, 2009

BOE has tough decisions ahead on bond projects

September 17, 2009

With construction of Eudora Elementary School and the expansion of Eudora Middle School in the can, the district is better off financially than it had thought it would be. However, some tough decisions for the Eudora USD 491 Board of Education loom on the horizon.

Don Swartz, USD 491’s construction consultant, told the board Thursday that there were only “annoying odds and ends” left at EES and EMS.

The two projects cost a little more than $32 million of the $45 million budget for the bond issues approved by Eudora voters in November 2007.

The new technical education center, expansion at Eudora West Early Childhood and Family Center, as well as the addition of an auditorium at Eudora High School all were bid as one package and likely will cost about $10.4 million.

The district also has accumulated about $207,000 in interest and spent about $600,000 on technology for the projects.

Projects left are the $2.2 million district stadium. However, the district will have the option — as stated in the bond resolution — to roll into the bond the $1.3 million contract lease with HVAC provider TAC Americas.

Paying for the TAC contract would cut down on the district’s yearly operational costs.

“It’s going to come down to a choice between doing that and doing the stadium project,” Superintendent Don Grosdidier said of the option. “Voters voted on the stadium and the TAC piece, and what it comes down to is that the board is going to have to make a decision on what was most important to the voters.”

The $900,000 left over if the board elected to pay out the TAC contract could go toward various district improvements, including a better roof at EMS.

The district also could have about $600,000 in contingency funds left over from the construction of EES. There is about $640,000 in contingency funds available for the projects at EHS, but Swartz said he thought those would be used.

The stadium was intentionally left until the end of the project in case cost overruns on projects that would affect academics.

Funds that were initially thought to be available were not after cuts to funding at the state level during the most recent legislative session.

“Things have come up on the operational side that we would have anticipated being able to pay for out of capital outlay or new facilities weighting money — things like the furnishings and all of the technology that goes into the building,” Grosdidier said.

If the board does elect to move forward with the stadium, it could choose to go with a stadium design and build firm that could construct the stadium within 90 days.

If the district had the stadium designed and then had to pull out, it would cost $25,000.

Some board members asked about just using the money to renovate Laws Field, but that is not possible because the bond resolution didn’t state that as an option.

Another issue surrounding the stadium is Douglas County doesn’t want traffic exiting the stadium directly onto County Road 1061.

The district will have to gain an easement to 20th Street and traffic would be directed to the west.

The new tech center and auditorium at EHS should be ready in fall 2010.

In the meantime, Grosdidier said the district would be looking into various grant to further fund the construction of the stadium.

In other actions, the board:

• Congratulated EMS Principal Rich Proffitt for his election to the Kansas State High School Activities Association Board of Directors.

• Heard from a request to modify the district’s tobacco policy. See page 2 for more details.

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