While the estimated cost of $13.6 million was higher than some members would have liked, the Marshall Public Schools Facility Committee has finished its projects list for presentation to the Marshall Board of Education.
If approved by the school board, the plan would go to Marshall voters as a bond issue in the April 2003 election.
The committee finalized the list at a meeting held Monday night, finishing 18 months of discussion. The group had come close to reaching its goal at its last meeting held on Nov. 25.
At that meeting, the group's plan had been formulated to include: n construction of an upper elementary for grades three through five;
* renovating Bueker Middle School;
* adding two new science labs to Marshall High School;
* adding air conditioning to the industrial arts building;
* renovating the existing elementary schools.
Taking up where that meeting left off, the committee looked to see if anything further could be removed from the project list to hold costs down. While none of the committee members voiced a motion to remove any of the items entirely, several expressed a desire to reduce the cost of the "wish list" items - which had grown to total more than $14.3 million.
Among the areas which were given the most consideration were proposed renovations at Bueker Middle School. Those repairs, which ranged from painting to plumbing and included a sizable expense for air conditioning, had been estimated at $4,271,750 in the original proposal.
Several members questioned whether this was a good use of taxpayer funds, but others, such as committee Vice Chairman Dale Zank, said there are few other options because the building cannot be replaced at this time.
"My answer is you gotta use it," Zank said.
In the end, items such as the replacement of floor tiling, chalkboards and the roof at the middle school were eliminated. This, as well as choosing one of the less expensive air-conditioning plans, allowed the group to bring the middle school renovation estimate down to $3,866,000.
Further reductions made
The committee also reduced the estimated cost of air conditioning the industrial arts building and constructing new high school science labs.
The original $598,800 estimate for air conditioning had been for an entirely new system, including heating. Marshall Superintendent of Schools Joe Aull said he felt the price could be reduced significantly because the heating system is still in good order. The committee agreed and reduced this item's estimate to $300,000.
The estimated cost of the science labs was lowered about $70,000 to $486,720. This was done by eliminating the estimate for new casework. Aull said the district would be able to make use of existing cabinets and shelves if the labs were built.
Cost still high for some
Member Jack Thomas pointed out that the last two bond issues had asked voters to approve a $13 million expenditure, but were for two new elementary buildings. The new plan totals $13,601,720 and includes only one new school.
"Where'd that second school go?" he asked.
Other members of the group were quick to point out that the improvements to Bueker Middle School and the existing elementary schools were not included in the earlier bond issues.
Member Walt Keith said the inclusion of "something for everyone" was a positive change, but added that the plan would probably be better received if its cost were lower.
Committee Chairman George Clemens said the monetary figure is also one aspect of a bond issue campaign.
"Those (earlier) bond issues failed for a number of reasons other than cost," he said.
More than just a building
Committee members Richard Clemens and Clay Mead both commented on the rewards of a school that go beyond just having a new building. Clemens said the economy has been poor for the last several years, which could negatively affect the bond issue, but added that some educators believe it also negatively affects children's educational opportunities.
"We have to look at how it will affect the students positively in terms of their grades and lowering the drop-out rate," he said.
Clemens said the addition of a new school would also make the town more attractive to new businesses and industries, which could help the local economy turn around.
Mead noted that when he moved to Marshall in 1957, the city's population was about the same as it is now. He said he had expected to see a lot more growth than there has been and added that in a number of other communities which the committee looked at, the construction of a new school helped to spur that growth.
"God knows this town needs something," Mead said.