A day after reaching a decision on their recommendation, members of the Marshall Public Schools Facility Committee presented their report to the Marshall Board of Education.
Committee Chairman George Clemens said the group had been meeting for 18 months, meaning its members had been through about 60 hours of meetings.
The end result of those hours is a plan calling for the renovation of Bueker Middle School, the construction of a new elementary school for third through fifth grades, adding new science labs to Marshall High School, adding air conditioning to the industrial arts building and renovating the existing elementary schools.
Clemens said the plan would be to make the middle school last an additional 15 to 20 years. Building a new elementary school for the three grade levels would also help alleviate crowding at BMS by moving the fifth grade away from that campus.
Clemens also responded to comments he had heard concerning the need for the high school science labs when the district keeps adding to its athletic complex. He said many of the sports additions were done because of the availability of financial aid from the community.
"You don't usually get that kind of help with a science center," Clemens said.
Clemens said the group was unable to come up with a cost estimate to present to the board and instead provided a range of $10 million to $13.7 million. He said the district's architects, ACI Frangkiser/Hutchens, had come up with the higher cost to complete the planned projects, but his committee generally felt the work could be done for less.
"I think the committee feeling is they would like to stay under 12.5 (million dollars), lower if possible," Clemens said.
Several members of the committee abstained from the vote to make the recommendation and one voted against it because of the upper cost range's inclusion. Clemens said to have the unanimous support of the committee during the campaign process it would be "very very important" to get the cost down.
Land options presented
Clemens also gave the board his committee's recommendations for possible sites to construct the new school. These include the Banks property in the extreme southeast part of the city, the city-owned property in the northeast part of town off Route O and Highway 240, the Gieringer property in the eastern part of the city east of Lincoln and between Watermill Road and Route WW and the Newell property, the site proposed during two unsuccessful school bond attempts, in the northwest portion of the city.
Clemens said the Site Screening Committee looked at 14 properties in all and rated them based on factors including infrastructure, visibility, cost and the district's flexibility in acquiring them. He said location and the availability of utilities eliminated many of the parcels, but visibility also factored highly into the decision.
Time to proceed
Clemens told the board there is never a good time to ask people for money, but the time had come to proceed with an attempt on a bond issue.
"We have a great school system, but we could have a much better one," he said. "We've got the faculty. We've got the programs. We just need buildings to put them in."
Clemens also noted that at least one business had come to Marshall based on the attractiveness of the Marshall High School athletic complex. He said moving the building program ahead could be a boon to the local economy.
"If you don't have schools, businesses won't come," he said.
Busy month planned
Marshall Superintendent of Schools Joe Aull thanked Clemens and the other members of the committee for the work they had done, saying they had come a long way since their first meeting more than a year ago.
Aull suggested the district take a two-pronged action during the next few weeks. He said first he would work with the architect and construction management firm, Septagon of Sedalia, to see what could be done to "trim the fat" from the projected cost estimates.
"I think we can still put together a nice package and have a smaller price tag," he said.
Aull cautioned that the amount should not be lowered too far, however. He said he had never seen a construction project come in exactly as estimated. While the district does not want to be too far one way or the other it is better to be able to do a little more than promised than a little less, Aull said.
While the cost estimates are being reworked, a joint subcommittee of board and facility committee members will begin negotiating costs for the four parcels of land. This subcommittee will consist of Aull, Clemens, Scott Hartwig, Walt Keith, Jay Barton, Jeanette Klinge and Ed Kays.
Aull said the board will probably need to meet several times in special session to iron out the details of the proposal before sending the ballot information to Saline County Clerk Ken Bryant near the end of January 2003.