The Lawrence school board voted to move ahead on a few capital outlay projects that were presented to the group at its meeting Monday night.
Tom Bracciano, division director of facilities and operations, listed more than $8.6 million worth of capital outlay projects that could be done, but just a few had a high enough priority to be acted upon.
“(The priorities) are subjective, but we have a pretty good basis for how we’ve done this,” Bracciano said. “There’s safety, security, there’s energy efficiency, there’s effect on student learning.”
The No. 1 task on the list is replacing the cooling tower at Lawrence High School, which is already out to bid and estimated to cost $200,000.
“If this shoots craps in the spring, basically you will not have air conditioning at Lawrence High,” Bracciano said.
The other items in the highest priority category include a fire alarm upgrade at West Junior High School; fixing scuppers, which help with water overflow from the roof, at Sunflower School; and replacing rotting trim and eaves at five other schools.
The items at the top of the list, including the cooling tower, are estimated to cost $350,000 total.
“Anything that’s on the list, we think, really needs to be done,” Chief Operations Officer Frank Harwood said.
The district already has $9 million worth of capital outlay funds committed this year.
Capital outlay funds can only be used on buildings and equipment, not things that come out of the general operating budget, like salaries. It’s illegal to change funds from one pool of money to the other.
“We’re probably only looking at $1 million as a lid,” finance division director Kathy Johnson said. “You want to have some cash flow. Tax revenues do not come in on a regular basis.”
However, certain board decisions, like moving ninth-graders to the high schools, could change the top of the priority list.
“If the board decides to reconfigure, we do know that there will be not big expenses, but there will be some expenses,” Superintendent Rick Doll said. “That’s obviously not going to be this fiscal year, but could be the following fiscal year.”
Another option that has been broached by board President Scott Morgan that could present cost savings in tight budget times — closing a school — would also change the capital outlay list.
“I’m not saying that we are going to close a school, but if the board would decide to do that, then it probably makes sense that we’re not going to spend several hundred thousand dollars making a repair to that,” Doll said.
Installation for the cooling tower, which the board will have to approve once bids are gathered, should happen during the winter. Other high-priority projects will be completed when students are not in school.