R-5 school board discusses capital projects

Friday, January 5, 2007

By Steve Moyer

Nevada Daily Mail

There was only one item on the agenda for the open section of the work session of the Nevada R-5 Board of Education Wednesday evening -- review of capital improvement projects. That one item encompassed several issues, however.

How do you pay for the projects, and where does the money come from? Which projects should be priorities and which can be put off? The board tackled these issues and came up with the three most pressing projects on which to concentrate during the upcoming year.

The board considered everything from a fine arts center to upgrading the entrances to schools. Dr. Warren Lovinger asked about not using debt to pay for the projects.

"Of the projects listed, except for the fine arts center, all are pretty close to $250,000," Lovinger said. "Could we knock one of them off each year and not use debt?"

Superintendent Craig Noah agreed that would be a viable way to proceed.

"We could certainly do one each year," Noah said. "That would not be too difficult."

Member Larry Forkner asked if the district was keeping up with technological changes.

"How are we technologically?" Forkner asked. "Are we going to be where we need to be as time goes on?"

Noah told the board the district upgraded its technology constantly.

"This needs to be taken care of cyclically," Noah said. "It's like with the buses -- if you don't replace them for a year or two the costs increase dramatically."

Assistant Superintendent Christie Peterson said the district made use of open- source software where possible to save on costs but there are some areas that need to use proprietary software.

"We use as much opensource software as we can find," Peterson said. "There is some really good software that we use that costs $15,000 to $17,000 per building."

A new law is forcing the hand of school districts to increase their use of virtual courses for students wishing to take a course not usually offered by the district.

"A new law takes effect in September that every high school has to provide virtual courses," Peterson said. "If you have a student who wants to take a language course you don't offer, we have to be able to provide it, by law."

The board then took up the issue of moving the district offices out of the high school to provide space for more classrooms.

"We could use the current superintendent's office for three classrooms," Noah said. "We could build a central office for the district on property we already own for approximately $300,000."

Member Jan Benbrook questioned if the proposed structure would be adequate for future needs.

"If we're going to do this we should do it right," Benbrook said. "We don't want to find out later we could use another office or two."

The board voted to authorize Noah to seek architectural services to develop a site location and building design for the project.

After discussing whether it was a definite need of the district the board asked Noah to get a more definitive cost on the elevator project so it could be discussed during the upcoming regular board meeting.

A proposal to build a new field house stirred Lovinger to say that it was time the board moved forward on the project.

"This has been on the back burner for too long," Lovinger said. "We were prepared to go forward with this six years ago when our finances went south and we had to delay it."

Noah said the proposed design would cost approximately $2.2 million if it were built by a contractor using concrete block construction but the cost could be reduced substantially using a wood frame construction with metal siding.

"With the same design, the same floor plan but with metal siding instead of block construction we could do it as a district for between $500,000 and $650,000," Noah said. "The wide variation between the high and low estimates is mainly because of the cost of dirt work."

Part of the savings to the district would be provided by having students do most of the construction. The board wanted to make sure, however, that construction trade students wouldn't be used as a continuing labor source for district projects unless they were willing and the project would be in line with their instructional needs. In addition the board wanted any students taking part in the field house project to get proper credit from the community.

"We need to recognize the students who participate," Lovinger said. "It's above and beyond their normal efforts and we need to make sure they know we appreciate it."

The board asked Noah to provide more definitive cost estimates for the field house project at a future board meeting.

After the board went into closed session they accepted the resignation of Dr. Steve Beckett, Nevada Middle School principal, effective June 30; and the resignation of Craig Good, district network technician, effective Jan. 3.

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