By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
Pleasant View Elementary School got its new design approved during a special meeting of the Whitley County Board of Education Thursday.
Board members unanimously approved the new design, as well as other items related to the new school.
Leonard Bowers, principal with RossTarrant, brought the finalized exterior design of the new school building for board members to review and vote on, and then await final approval from the Kentucky Department of Education.
“Everything is moving forward,” Bowers said.
Board member Delmar Mahan motioned to approve the exterior plans of Pleasant View Elementary, with a second from Board member J.E. Jones.
In February, the board unanimously approved the schematic drawings of the building.
Also concerning the new school, Bowers explained the KDE required a BG-2 form that outlines the specs of the building plans. He added that the form would detail the materials used and where they plan to be with the energy efficient design.
“We’re looking at a target of 32 kilo BTUs per square foot,” he said.
He said this would meet EnergyStar requirements.
Board member Brenda Hill motioned to approve the BG-2 for Pleasant View, with a second from Board member Malorie Cooper.
Also concerning the new school, the board unanimously approved the BG-3 statement concerning project cost estimates.
Bowers explained the design development phase of the project went over budget, but that he planned to meet with mechanics, plumbers and electrical contractors next week to review where the upcoming budget can be cut.
Bowers added the tentative date to bid out the project is Aug. 29.
Cooper motioned to approve the BG-3, with a second from Hill.
Bowers then explained that the Corp of Engineers requested a jurisdictional determination concerning the stream and wetlands delineation, and that a cost adjustment had to be made for that determination.
Mahan motioned for this approval “to keep the Corp of Engineers happy,” he said, and it was seconded by Board Chair Larry Lambdin.
Also of concern for the new school location was the Indiana bat.
Bowers explained that a survey of the wetlands located at that site determined it could be a natural habitat for this species of bat.
“Every place in Kentucky is a potential (habitat) for the Indiana bat,” Bowers said. “(But because) the area could be potentially a habitat, we have to think about how to (approach) that.”
He explained there is only a certain time of the year when contractors can clear wetland areas and not disturb the bat habitats.
Mahan asked Superintendent Scott Paul about the cost. Paul said $5,490 would be sent to the Kentucky National Lands Trust conservation fund.
Paul added the land area is 1.8 acres.
“No one (on this board) has ever experienced this before with one of these projects,” Paul said.
Mahan motioned for approval, with a second from Cooper.
In other board business:
—Deputy Superintendent Paula Trickett explained to board members that the tentative 2013-2014 budget was a mixed bag.
“I think we’ll call this good news and bad news,” she said, explaining that “our bad news is not nearly as bad as other schools.”
The Kentucky School Boards Insurance Trust, which oversaw a risk pool, low-cost insurance program to cover workman’s compensation, property and liability insurance and other services to its members, accumulated a $28 million deficit, which was announced earlier this year.
And member school districts, including Whitley County Schools, learned they will have to make up the difference.
KSBIT sent an unsigned memo to its members explaining the executive board decision to assess between $50 and $60 million to its member body to make up the deficit.
Kentucky League of Cities Director Jonathan Steiner said the assessment would not only cover the deficit, but also repay an $8 million loan made by KLC to the KSBIT. Another $4 million would cover a state premium tax.
The remainder, according to Steiner, covers administration costs and payment of a new company to oversee the program.
In the meantime, school districts statewide are now forced to incorporate that deficit into their budgets.
Trickett said Whitley County Schools’s share is approximately $700,000.
“This is a tentative amount hanging over us,” she said.
“It’s still a bare-bones budget,” Trickett said, adding that “because of (past) board actions” the schools are better prepared to handle various cuts.
One help to the budget is the upcoming retirement of “up to 10” certified teachers retiring this year, according to Trickett.
She explained with lower enrollment in the schools, those teaching positions won’t be eliminated because “we’re on a level where we need to be with staffing.”
Trickett also told board members that the federal sequester will also likely affect the budget, including cuts in Title I funds and IDEA funds.
Another issue that Trickett said “is going to get caught up with the sequester” is the Build America bonds the school has. She said that those bonds financed the freshman wing, and that the federal government was to make the interest payments on those bonds.
Leigh Burke, who is with Whitley County Schools, said they have already made one payment, and that another payment is due in September.
“We tried to factor that in the budget,” Trickett added. “We are in good, sound shape.”
Burke said the tentative budget is slightly more than $49 million for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
This total includes the estimated construction costs of the new Pleasant View Elementary School building.
Hill motioned to approve the tentative budget, with a second from Cooper.
The board was unanimous in this decision.