The Marshall Board of Education took steps Tuesday to bring its plan for an April 2003 bond issue in line with the $11.9 million price ceiling it placed on the project.
Superintendent of Schools Joe Aull addressed the issue at the board's Tuesday meeting, saying that before the plan can be presented to the public, the district needs to firm up some of its details.
The original estimated cost of the project had been just over $13.6 million. In order to reduce that cost, the idea of installing a new air-conditioning unit at the industrial arts building was dropped and proposed renovations to the district's older elementary buildings were scaled back.
Aull said the air conditioning would be nice, but is not totally necessary as the industrial arts building does have window units in its classrooms. Dropping this section cut $300,000 from the total project cost. As for the elementary school buildings, Aull recommended $150,000 for renovations rather than the original $500,000. The lower amount will still allow the district to remodel the facilities' restrooms and install security doors.
Areas of the Marshall Facility Committee recommendation the board chose not to alter were the costs of two new science labs at Marshall High School and the proposed new elementary school, which would serve third, fourth and fifth grades.
"That's the one thing we want to be sure to do right," Aull said, noting the building could be in use for some time, as three of the current elementary school buildings have been used for nearly 80 years.
The cost of land is expected to have a significant impact on the overall cost, but as land negotiations have not been completed, a price is not yet available for the calculations.
Making a list
On the proposed renovations to Bueker Middle School, Aull suggested developing a list of priorities to present to voters. He said because the actual cost of the items on the list is unknown at this time it would be impossible to say how many of them could be achieved.
"But when we go to the public we can tell them 'This is the list and we'll go as far down it as we can,'" Aull said.
Among the items to be included on the list are a new heating and air-conditioning system, improved restrooms, improved electrical wiring, expanding the library and replacing aging lockers.
Some members of the Facility Committee, including Sharon Mills and Morris Shikles, expressed concern over some of the other items on the list. They said items like painting the interior halls of the middle school, replacing stair treads and installing a new stage curtain should be done outside of a bond issue to avoid paying architect and contingency fees on them.
No final decision on what would be included in the BMS renovations was made Tuesday. Members of the board as well as the Facility Committee were invited to submit their ideal priority list for the middle school improvements.
Educating the public
The board also took time to discuss how it would promote the bond issue to the public. It was the general consensus of the board that one of its greatest assets in this endeavor will be the members of the Facility Committee.
Mills, chairwoman of the committee's Public Relations Subcommittee, said that group is willing to help and has been awaiting instructions from the board.
"We're ready to go," she said. "We're waiting to see if we have a job."
George Clemens, Facility Committee chairman, said Mills' perspective is indicative of the majority of the committee as a whole. He said he would also like to see the district's teachers and administrators involved.
"Since we were a grass roots organization, we felt that's where the support needs to come from," he said.
Aull said the key to the group's success will be providing the public with as much information as possible. He said doing so would yield better results than simply trying to convince people to support the issue.
"The secret is to educate," he said. "People will make up their mind on their own."