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USD 489 board will take a look at building construction costs

10/7/2012

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Hays USD 489 Board of Education members on Monday will get cost estimates of maintaining and improving current facilities or building new ones.

The board meets at 6:30 p.m. for a work session in the Hays Middle School library. Work sessions are open to the public.

Representatives from HTK architects, who concluded a facilities study last month, are scheduled to attend and give dollar amounts for their recommendations, said Richard Cain, deputy superintendent.

Options ranged from maintaining the current facilities to closing and repurposing schools. A revamping could mean closing Rockwell Administration Center, consolidating elementary schools and building new schools.

"To hide your head in the sand and keep fixing what we've got, is not cost effective," said board member Rich Kraemer.

Most scenarios would require a bond issue to complete.

At the September work session Charles R. Smith, HTK vice president, said bond issues can run for 10 to 20 years.

If the board decides to put a bond issue to a vote, the district would need to make a first notification about three months before the election, Smith said.

To have an issue on the April 2013 ballot, the notification would have to be made in January.

While school district patrons would have to approve any bond issue, "you need permission of the state board (of education) if you exceed 16 percent of your general fund for a bond issue," Cain said. "Anything up to that, you can just do with a vote, but you have to have the state's board permission to go higher."

Cain estimated that 16 percent of general fund would be about $34 million.

"Sixteen percent of our general fund, that isn't going to get us anything," Kraemer said.

The time required to upgrade or build new facilities would depend on how large the project is, and how many schools are involved, Smith said.

"Bond issues take a long time," he said. "You don't have to sell them all at the same time. (You can) sell bonds as you need them."

"Part of the process is that you don't have to bite it all off at once ... figure out what your immediate needs are," said Zach Snethen, HTK project manager. "It could be over two bond issues."

"This gets us to here ... and another 10 years from now, do another bond issue," Smith said. "Everybody's gotta know that's the game plan."

"The problem is, if you do that, you're not going to fix the old schools," said Greg Schwartz, board vice president.

The district just completed two building projects -- a metal classroom addition at Hays Middle School and finishing a weight room at Hays High School -- with plans to build eight more classrooms at HMS.

In February the board voted to build the classrooms to be paid for in part by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Built to FEMA specification, the classroom addition on the east side of the building would serve as a storm shelter.

Total estimated cost of the project is $2,779,464, with USD 489 paying $1,410,437.

The first phase of the grant is $105,179 for design and engineering.