School Board Hears 90% Review of High School Master Plan, Hires Coaches at May 19 Meetings

By REX ZIMMERMAN

The U.S.D. 255 Board of Education held two special meetings Thursday evening, May 19, to hear a report on the high school “Master Plan” and also to approve hiring of coaches for next season.

Board members were present were Melissa Simpson, Mark Pollock, Deb Helfrich, Mariah Doherty and Mike Miller, along with board president Steve Allen.

The board first heard a report from P1 Group’s Dana Dunn, who presented the “90% Review” plan for the high school building. He began by noting that the plan is designed to be implemented over a five-year period, so estimated costs with the various projects vary from the low end (if they are done in the near future) to the high end (if they are done four or five years from now). It is up to the school board to decide what projects they would like to take on and the timeline for each project.

Mr. Dunn began by outlining each area of concern at the high school. First on the list was the security and intercom systems. P1 suggests more, higher quality security cameras with better resolution and an upgraded intercom system at an estimated cost of $18,000 to $23,000. They felt this was a high priority item.

Better locking systems for the interior doors at the high school was also a big issue as teachers now carry around large amounts of keys for the various locked doors. Cost for an upgraded key lock system was $32,000-$40,000.

Lighting was a “big deal” in the survey P1 conducted with teachers, students and community leaders. P1 recommends switching to LED lighting, which would provide a more natural and better quality of lighting for learning. The cost is high – an estimated $300,000 – but there should be considerable energy savings with LED lighting.

Another option for lighting was to install “solar tube” natural lighting which would use domes installed on top of the building to distribute natural sunlight through tubes to each room and hallway. Estimated cost is $30,000-$40,000.

The electrical system was also an issue, but not unexpected for a building that is over 40 years old and with the large increase in electric loads due to computers and other technology. P1 suggests doing an electric load study first at an estimated cost of $4,000 to $6,000. Installing additional outlets in each school room and offices would cost an estimated $65,000-$82,000.

When conducting their survey, P1 said the heating, cooling and ventilation (HVAC) was another big complaint. He said drafts that were thought to be coming from the windows were actually coming from the HVAC system. Mr. Dunn said that currently there is no outside air circulating in the building and what the building needs is a new ducting system, similar to what was done at the elementary school, to provide proper air flow, along with a better control system for the HVAC system. Total cost was estimated at $2 to $2.7 million. Mr. Dunn noted that is this project was not done, there still should be an effort to get more fresh air into the classrooms.

A couple of “high priority” items came next, including replacing the gas piping on the roof that goes to the current HVAC units, which is corroding due to roof coating being sprayed over it. That cost was estimated at $25,000 -$31,000.

Another important item was replacement of the exhaust fan in the school kitchen, which currently does not work, Mr. Dunn said. Cost was estimated at $26,000 – $32,000.

Plumbing was next on the list, with Mr. Dunn pointing out that most of the fixtures in the bathrooms, showers, etc. were original to the building and had reached the end of their useful life. The basic plumbing seems fine, he said, but the fixtures need replaced. He suggested a plan to replace the fixtures over five or six years at an estimated cost of $170,000 – $215,000.

Replacing windows and carpet at the school (some of which is also original to the building) was also discussed with a price tag of $665,000 – $819,000. A top priority item, however, was replacement of the soffits around the building, which have deteriorated badly, to keep outside air from leaking into the building and keep “varmints” from getting under them and into the roof area.

wo more “high priority” items were identified by P1 Group. A new walk-in freezer for the kitchen is needed at an estimated cost of $65,000 – $81,000 and storm shelters for the high school and elementary school buildings. Cost estimates for she shelters are around $250,000 each for FEMA style, or less for non-FEMA.

Final items on the P1 list of suggested improvements were:

  • Remodeled locker rooms at an estimated cost of $166,000 – $208,000,
  • Covered walkway from high school building to Vo-Ag building. An enclosed, sealed walkway is estimated at $295,000, but Mr. Dunn pointed out there are lots of options for the walkway project.
  • New lighting, sound system and curtains for the auditorium at an estimated cost of $270,000 – $340,000.
  • Permanent walls for some classrooms at an estimate of $8,000 – $10,000.

Total cost of doing all the projects is estimated at $4.9 to $6.1 million. Mr. Dunn stressed, however, that the board decides what projects they wish to do and when, and projects are proposed over a five or six year stretch.

The goal is to bring the building up to top shape and make it viable for another 20 to 25 years.

Financing options were also briefly discussed with Mr. Dunn reviewing several ways of securing funds for the project. Currently, the district is paying off bonds for the elementary school remodeling project done a couple of years ago with money from the Capital Outlay fund, which most likely would be used for the high school project as well.

Mr. Dunn suggested that the high priority items – gas piping, electric study and new outlets, exhaust fan, walk-in cooler and FEMA shelters – be considered for the first projects at an estimated cost of $736,000, with the storm shelters making up most of that cost.

The next step will be for P1 Group and Superintendent Dr. Andi Williams to present the final Master Plan to the board so they can pick the projects they feel are most important. Preliminary costs will also then be reviewed as well as a decision on how to finance the improvements.

After a short break, the board moved into its second special meeting. Funding proposals for the Special Education Cooperative were reviewed with costs going up. Dr. Williams pointed out, however, that the district is required to provide these services and would cost much more if each school in the Special Ed Coop were to try and provide them individually. No action was taken.

The board next gave an overview of the budget. Dr. Williams said that expects the mill levy to rise from the current 6.1 mills to 20.8 mills, where it was before the oil “boom” days. The district has the authority to increase the mill levy to that amount without a public vote. Dr. Williams also said the district would be asking the state again this year for extraordinary needs funding because of the large drop in valuation the district has experienced with the drop in oil and gas prices.

In final action, the board:

  • Approved Tim Carey as head boys basketball coach.
  • Approved Brenda Beecher as assistant girls basketball coach.
  • Approved Katherine Hughes as head girls tennis coach.