Archive for Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Bond issue could top $50 million

October 12, 2004


What would it cost to deal with building needs at Lawrence's junior high schools and high schools?

About $53.5 million, according to DRL Group, an Overland Park architecture firm.

The cost is more than what the district officials have been considering for a bond referendum.

"We've been holding down costs and now we've gotten to the point where we need to do something," board member Cindy Yulich said.

Although board members shaped the bond referendum at Monday's board meeting, the public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the matter. The public is invited to attend the Oct. 25 board meeting, where the bond issue will be discussed in a forum setting, said Lawrence Supt. Randy Weseman.

"We need the public input," he said.

Based on the proposed plan outlined Monday, the bond issue would allow the district to get rid of portables at the junior high schools and remove equity issues between the two high schools, said Tom Bracciano, operations and facility planning director for the school district. But it also includes removing and replacing South Junior High School.

In reviewing detailed construction cost estimates, board members quickly noted that it would cost $21 million to renovate South in construction costs. Removing and replacing the facility would be an estimated $20 million for construction.

Board members pulled the concept of renovating South because of cost, as well as questions as to where students would be placed during the two and half years it would take to renovate the building.

"From an investment standpoint, it's hard for me to imagine renovating South would be a good idea," said board member Rich Minder.

The cost may be less to remove and replace South in comparison to renovating it. But the overall cost of the plan had board members discussing how the public may react.

In April 2003, district voters rejected a $59 million bond issue that would have made improvements at 15 schools. Board member Sue Morgan said the 2003 bond issue would be $18 million more if it were passed now.

Weseman said while there may be sticker shock for the current $53 million plan, the reality is that it would be more expensive to spread out the improvements in a capital outlay plan.

During public comment on the bond issue discussion, former school board member and Scott Morgan said the community would balk at things but the board shouldn't underestimate people.

"Have high expectations for this community," he said. "You will never get anywhere unless you do. "

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