Atlantic School Board discusses Middle School project cuts


September 7th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Board of Education will consult with a financial expert handling the sale of its bonds for the Middle School Heating, Ventilation and Cooling and Renovation project, before making a firm decision on how to cut costs from a recently announced $750,000 increase in the price of the project. The Board Tuesday heard from their architectural consultant on areas where the district could save about $350,000. They also discussed financing options if all of the “Project creep” costs were to be implemented. Design Alliance Architect Jerry Purdy will draw up a list of areas where he thinks costs could be saved without compromising the integrity of the project, such as declining to remove a concrete wall in order to get to the old boilers and take them out…not installing a proposed stage extension over the orchestra pit in the auditorium, and, using a newer, different type of plaster system on some walls, instead of the proposed three-coat system.

Purdy said the biggest cost savings could be realized in holding off on the construction of, and drainage for, the Middle School Parking lot. He says that can be tabled for another two or two-and a-half years, until the necessary funding is attained to complete it as desired. School Administrators will check with Piper-Jaffrey’s Travis Squires to explore the benefits of an additional bonding for the additional costs. Board Secretary Mary Beth Fast said the options right now, appear to be limited, according to her initial e-mails with Squires. One option involves financing the full amount, $1.5-million over the life of the sales tax. The second, if $700,000 is financed, could be accomplished by short-term borrowing, or Bond Anticipation Note  (BAN).

Much of what is decided could boil down to whether the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL), is approved by the voters during next Tuesday’s School Board elections. A renewal of the PPEL, which would begin in the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2013 and each year for 10-years thereafter, would allow the district to tax property valuations at not more than 85-cents per thousand dollars. School officials say if it passes, it would give the district some “Wiggle room,” to help cover the costs, and in terms of timing. If it doesn’t the district would likely need to borrow for the project, sooner.