Tuesday, December 18, 2007

BW-School Board Reviews Building Recommendation

The Baldwin-Woodville School Board spent the lion's share of Monday night's meeting discussing last month's recommendation from the Community Facility Needs Exploratory Committee. In November the committee presented the recommendation that an intermediate school for grades three through five be built to alleviate crowding at the elementary and middle schools.

The committee was formed by the board last April with community members who responded to advertising for volunteers. Also serving on the committee are Superintendent Rusty Helland, school board member Jeff Campbell and school employees. John Huenink, construction manager from Kraus-Anderson, and architect Brad Simonson of HSR provided technical assistance to the committee.

Committee member Jane Erickson commented that the group represents a wide range of ages and occupations.

Over the past eight months, the committee met ten times to research, analyze data and brainstorm. In the end, their recommendation is that an intermediate school for grades three through five with six sections at each level should be built. The recommended location for the 90,000 square foot building is north of Greenfield Elementary, just west of the parking lot that currently serves the High School. Estimated price tagis $16,494,000 according to preliminary cost figures provided by Kraus-Anderson.

Steve Apfelbacher of Ehlers and Associates explained the financial impact of the project using the preliminary figure of $16.495 million construction cost, with that debt issued over 20 years. The financing assumptions include bonds being issued in June of 2008 following an April referendum.

Apfelbacher said the district's present debt is $22,061,837. State Aid to the district for debt service is at 69.65 percent annually. As the district's debt increases, the State Aid formula changes and Apfelbacher estimated the new debt would be reimbursed at 63.8 percent.

Current debt capacity of the district is $45,524,792, which is the difference between the $67,586,629 debt limit less the $22,061,837 outstanding, according to Apfelbacher. Board members Tom Schumacher and John Hinz both cautioned against borrowing to the upper debt limit.

The projected interest rate for the project is 4.25 percent said Apfelbacher. That translates into $121.76 yearly tax increase on a $200,000 home, $182.64 for a $300,000 home and $243.51 for a $400,000 home.

"This last year, our growth didn't increase that much," commented Hinz, "What happens if it stays flat?"

If there is no growth in property values the mill rate would go up, said Apfelbacher. He explained that in doing the cost analysis for the district he used a conservative growth estimate of 75 percent of the average of the last five year's growth.

Apfelbacher said the two most important factors for the district to consider from a financial standpoint are how fast is the equalized valuation of the district growing and how much will the state contribute. Both of these can only be estimated.

John Huenink of Kraus-Anderson Construction Company explained the construction manager at risk services, which Kraus-Anderson could provide for the district. Construction manager at risk services assume all responsibility for pre-construction and construction phases of the project.
The district assumes no risk, any problems are the responsibility of the CM, he said.

In addition, the CM at risk charges a fixed fee which is negotiated up front based on estimated cost of the work. There is no mark up for change orders, said Huenink. Checks and balances between the architect and construction manager are built into the process and any savings revert 100 percent to the district, he said.

Architect Brad Simonson explained that the proposed building would add one classroom per grade level. The district has been increasing by an average of 24 students per year according to enrollment figures.

"We're not growing like we were, who knows how far out we can predict," said Hinz. "You can over-build."

"The committee talked about projected enrollment a lot," said Simonson. "At first the recommendation was for seven sections for each grade level, but they didn't want to over-build."

A few board members said the community had been misled in the last building project which assured that Viking Middle School could be added onto in the future.

Simonson said classrooms could be added on at Viking to the various wings and the core areas could handle the added students, but an additional entire grade level wouldn't fit. And that doesn't alleviate the problems at Greenfield Elementary. Classrooms could be added at Viking and the proposed new school in the future as needed Simonson said.

"What happens to the classrooms at Greenfield (that would be vacated by the move of third and fourth grades)," asked board member Dustin Klanderman.

Many programs that have been crowded would now have adequate space including special ed, library and computers, said Simonson. There would also be classrooms for additional grade level

Board member Todd Graf asked what would happen to the new garage next to Greenfield. Simonson said there are several options of where to move the building. He explained that the proposed building is planned for that spot due to the location of the bus loop and main entrance of Greenfield.

Board member Deb Rasmussen noted that the committee was very concerned with the leaking roofs in the district and thought these should be fixed before any new building begins.

Huenink said it's actually the exterior walls that are leaking in places where the flashing was improperly installed. According to Maintenance Supervisor Mike Timm, the district plans to test two sealant products in the spring to see which work or not.

"We're looking at $50,000 at the low end to $350,000 at the high end to replace the flashing," said Supt. Rusty Helland. "We all agree this needs to be fixed as soon as possible."

Rasmussen also asked if the committee addressed the swimming pool issue.

Simonson and Huenink said they estimated $4 million for an indoor pool and $10,000 to $12,000 annual operating costs. They said the committee decided that if the board wants to include the pool on the referendum, it should be a separate question from the proposed school building question.

District resident Ken Rundhaug asked what new administrative staff would be needed for a new building and if operating costs were included or would another referendum question be needed for that.

Simonson said the committee noted there would be additional maintenance staff, serving kitchen staff, as well as teachers. He said there would be a savings on busing costs. Operating costs are not figured into the preliminary building cost estimates, he said.

"These are all good questions," commented Huenink. "Your committee discussed them at length over a period of months and we'll review them with the board if you like."

"I don't think we need to re-invent the wheel," commented board member Mike Bondarenko as he made a motion to pursue the recommendation with further discussion at the next regular board meeting scheduled for Jan. 14.

Motion carried.