Board receives estimates on construction project

ANDERSON -- At a work session before a board meeting of the McDonald R-1 School District Board of Education on Jan. 12, the board received estimates on the storm shelters construction project.

Director of operations Will Gordon presented the numbers to the board, which were compiled by construction company Veregy. At the previous meeting in December, board members were told the entire cost of the project could be $29 million to $30 million, which is over budget. At that time, board members asked the construction company to put together a price for building three shelters -- one at Pineville Primary School, one at White Rock Elementary School and one at Rocky Comfort Elementary School, because these are the communities that do not have a shelter currently.

Gordon told the board the estimate for the three shelters was $10.29 million. He explained this figure was too high because, if the district started at this amount, it would put the rest of the project in jeopardy of being over budget. He shared other numbers with the board as well for different scopes of the project broken out in different bundles, but he said those numbers were more likely to change.

"There is some variance, and we're in a very volatile market," he said.

Board member Bob Campbell commented, "If we're going to be that far over, why does it cost that much?"

He said he would like to see some harder numbers and more clarity on what the district would be buying. He said he would like to have Veregy meet with the board and provide guidance on how the district could afford the project.

Gordon mentioned that, due to other projects the company is working on, it would be a year before anything was built for the school district.

Board member Andy McClain suggested some organizations might back off their projects due to high prices, and the district could get bumped up the list.

Campbell added he did not want to feel rushed to make a decision by the fact the district might lose its place in line. He said he would like to see the price of each storm shelter unbundled.

Board president Frank Woods said, if the board had those numbers, it could decide how to cut a percentage from each project.

McClain agreed he would like to see numbers broken down into individual buildings so the board could look for places to cut "fluff."

Also, during the work session, Superintendent Mark Stanton told the board it could take $2 million from Fund 4 to put toward the building project.

During the short board meeting following the work session, Gordon told the board that the district received bids for three 71-passenger International buses and two smaller Thomas buses for a total of $646,886. He said the district could use Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds for the purchase.

Also, members of the FFA gave a presentation on their trip to FFA National Convention in October.