Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

School board mulling $12.5 million capital improvements plan

December 9, 2013


Lawrence school officials outlined a plan Monday night to spend $12.5 million this spring and summer for building repairs, furniture replacement and other big-ticket expenses.

Those would be in addition to the projects being funded with the $92.5 million bond issue voters approved in April, although many of the capital improvements projects are intended to go hand-in-hand with the bond-funded projects.

Assistant superintendent Kyle Hayden outlined the plan during Monday's school board meeting. In addition to the $12.5 million this year, he said the long-range plan calls for another $25 million over the next three years, for a total of about $37.7 million through 2017.

Each year, the school board adopts a capital improvements plan, which is funded almost entirely from an 8-mill property tax levy in the district. Kathy Johnson, the district's finance director, said that generates about $8.1 million per year.

This year, however, the district carried over more money than usual from the previous year, in part because officials were waiting to see if voters would approve the bond issue before launching some of the projects.

One of the largest items on the proposed list is $2.1 million for a complete replacement of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School.

Last spring, the school board approved $900,000 to replace part of that system. But Dean Youngers, construction manager for the bond projects, recommended completely replacing the system with a new, high-efficiency system similar to systems that will be installed in some of the elementary schools that are being renovated with bond proceeds.

He said that system, known as a "variant refrigerant flow" system, is easy to retrofit into older buildings, requires less maintenance, and allows each room in a building to manage its own temperature.

"It's becoming very popular in schools," Youngers said.

The proposed plan also calls for $400,000 for classroom furniture in new classrooms being constructed through the bond projects, plus another $300,000 for the district's regular furniture replacement cycle.

It also includes $1.1 million for leasing outdoor high school athletic facilities.

The board took no action on the proposed budget Monday, but will likely consider it at the next board meeting, scheduled for Jan. 13. The board will not meet again in December due to the winter holidays.

In other business, the board:

• Heard a presentation of the schematic design plans for Free State High School and Kennedy School, which are being funded through the bond issue.

• Recognized students and staff from Broken Arrow School for receiving the Shelter Inc.'s "Unsung Hero" award.

• Recognized the Free State High School gymnastics team, which recently won the state 6A championship.

• Approved contracts with Nabholz Construction and McCownGordon Construction to serve as construction managers at risk on portions of the bond-funded construction projects.

• Approved an owner-architect contract with Momenta Architecture, formerly Nevius Serig Palmer, for design of the new College and Career Center.

• Accepted an audit of financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013.

• And approved a reduction in fees for driver's education from $225 to $150 for the summer of 2014.


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