TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

August 16, 2013

School construction delayed

Plans for bidding out Pleasant View work pushed back due to bond market surprise


The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

Plans to bid out construction of the new Pleasant View Elementary School on Aug. 29 have been delayed.

During a special-called meeting of the Whitley County Board of Education Thursday, Leonard Bowers, principal with RossTarrant, came before the board with revised design developments for the new building.

Before he could share project updates with the board, Superintendent Scott Paul explained the district got a surprise concerning the bond market.

He said that “because the bond market is not working in our favor,” the Kentucky Department of Education will allow a school system to use capital outlay funds on a construction project, provided KDE approves.

“We were caught off guard by the bond market,” Paul said.

In “layman’s terms,” a bond assures payment of a fixed amount of money in the future with more money paid, called interest, in the interim period as payment for this loan.

If this assurance to pay comes with the condition that the bond can be sold to someone else and the payment remains good, it can be bought and sold to other people or companies. That is what the bond market is — a way and a place to buy and sell those assurances.

The first step for the Board of Education was to adopt a resolution to use 90 percent of the capital outlay funds toward the project.

Capital outlay funds are separate monies maintained by the school system specifically earmarked for school construction projects which have been approved by KDE.

Bowers explained using those capital outlay funds will improve the bonding potential by more than $575,000.

“(This) will help with the Pleasant View project,” Bowers said.

Board chair Larry Lambdin motioned to approve using those capital outlay funds dependent upon KDE approval, with a second from Board member Malorie Cooper. A voice vote showed present board members unanimous in this decision.

Board member Delmar Mahan was unable to attend Thursday’s special-called meeting.

Once that decision for Pleasant View Elementary was made, the next step for board members was to approve the purchase of a half-acre of land that Paul said “we desperately need.”

Lambdin explained that the property will complete the entrance to the school, allowing access to U.S. 25W.

“That’s the reason for the purchase of the property,” Lambdin said.

Paul added the price tag for that half-acre is $12,500.

Cooper motioned for the school system to purchase the land, with a second from Lambdin. The board again was unanimous.

The next step for Pleasant View that board members needed to vote on concerned new designs for the school.

Bowers shared three new, revised designs for Pleasant View Elementary Thursday, adding that all designs must be approved by first the board of education, then the KDE.

“When we got into this project, the original design (was prepared) a couple months ago,” Bowers said.

The original design was approved by the board during a special-called meeting in May.

Bowers explained that they reviewed the costs and discovered the work would “exceed the (budgeted) funds.”

He attributed some of that problem to the bond market problems.

“What we’ve done is tried to see what we could do to work within the funds,” Bowers said. “(The revised design) makes the building a little more compact.”

Some changes were made in the interior design.

“The end result (is that) we cut two classrooms out of the project,” Bowers said.

It was explained that KDE requires at least two classrooms in each school for each grade — and the revised design allows for that, according to Bowers.

“We worked hard to squeeze down the plan,” he said. “The job is getting to where we need to be.”

After a review of the site plan, Bowers added there were some changes made to the parking area, as well as other exterior changes.

“(Also), the gymnasium had to be reduced from its original size,” he said. Some other changes include eliminating sinks from most classrooms, save for rooms for preschool, kindergarten and the art room.

The final project cost? Bowers said that construction is approximately $185 per square foot — and the revised design puts the square footage of the new building at approximately 45,955.

The total cost of building the school is approximately $8.55 million.

However, Bowers assured the board the revised design would maintain expected standards.

“(This) is not a detriment to the EnergyStar system,” he said.

Bowers explained in February that the project design kept energy efficiency in mind.

“We’re looking at a target of 32 kilo BTUs per square foot,” he said then.

On Thursday, Bowers told board members these changes would help get the project moving.

“(With) all of these changes, we are right on target,” he said. “(It’s) still within our grasp.”

However, Bowers admitted “the schedule slipped.”

Now Bowers said the plan is to come to the board in October with construction documents for the board’s approval — then bid out the project Nov. 26.

Board vice-chair J.E. Jones asked Bowers when construction would begin.

“We wanted to now,” Bowers said, adding that some time in December would likely be the target starting date for construction.

Fall 2015 is the goal to get the new school open and ready for learning.

“It is disappointing,” Lambdin said. “But right now I don’t think we have another option.”

Paul agreed.

“We’ve got to live within our means,” he said.

Lambdin motioned to approve the revised designs, with a second from Cooper.