Savings sought on school plans
Katrina effect prompts board to consider ways to trim construction costs
Lansing School Board members made some cost-saving decisions on plans for the new elementary school and high school auditorium Monday night, but they said they hoped they wouldn't have to pare down from the original designs.
Bruce Mortimer of Wilson and Company, Engineers and Architects, presented to the board revised drawings of the school bond projects. Voters approved a $23.6 million bond issue in April to finance the projects.
The revisions included some steps to keep the project within its budget; Mortimer said he had received "strong indications from contractors of inflation" in construction costs and materials in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Board president Brian Bode said the hurricane had at least "affected the psyche" of market, causing people to assume that prices will go up. But the effect is still not certain for Lansing's project, he said.
Initial changes to the elementary school design included rearranging the layout of hallways and classrooms. Mortimer assured the board that every classroom would have windows to the outside, with the exception of two music classrooms and the library.
Removed from the school's original design were a computer lab, a science lab, interior courtyards and storage areas.
Architects also proposed reducing the number of bathrooms in the first- and second-grade wing, a corridor in the offices and modifying the layout of the commons to save money, but administration had asked him to put back these features, as well as some storage areas, in the final design.
Board vice president Shelly Gowdy said the corridor in the office was essential for safety reasons - it would force all visitors to go through the office and the corridor before entering the school.
In the new design, the commons area is split into two separate eating areas, one on each side of the kitchen. Lansing Elementary and Intermediate school principals Tim Newton and Jan Jorgensen said they would prefer the original layout, in which the commons area was one large space that could be divided by a partition.
In the high school auditorium, Mortimer told the board, "We still have all the same spaces" in the new design.
Changes include putting a handicap-accessible ramp on the inside of the structure to square off the exterior walls and save on foundation and perimeter costs.
The auditorium lobby also "shrunk a little," Mortimer said.
Another modification to the auditorium included taking out bathrooms. Mortimer said the architects had seen that the school already had bathrooms down the hall from the auditorium and tried to save money by reducing the number in the lobby. However, school officials had asked that the bathrooms be replaced so that the auditorium could be closed off from the school and still meet code requirements.
Mortimer asked the board for "some action and some direction" on the plans.
Though Mortimer said he thought he could rework the design to meet the board's concerns and stay within the budget, board president Brian Bode insisted that the board prioritize its desires. That way, Bode reasoned, Mortimer would know what should be the first to go if cuts were required.
The board set forth its priorities in a unanimous vote on each building.
For the elementary school, the board listed its priorities, in order of most importance as: having the additional bathrooms in the first and second grade hallway, adding a corridor in the office, making the commons one area that can be divided by a partition wall and adding storage.
On the auditorium, the board directed the architects to proceed with the new drawing but to check on the cost of adding more bathrooms in the lobby and report back to the district, which board members stressed was a priority.
In addition to the new design and cost estimate that Wilson and Company will have to make, Bode said the architects also needed to make up a new construction schedule. He said the project has fallen behind its original schedule.
"We're moving slower than we had hoped," he said after the meeting.
"Are we moving? Yes. Are we where we should be? No. No, we're not."
However, Bode said the buildings still were scheduled to be open in fall 2007.
The board also accepted a bid from McAfee, Henderson & Strick for survey work on the sites of the new elementary school and high school auditorium for $29,015.
In other action, the board:
¢ Adopted the agenda and approved the consent agenda.
¢ Heard acknowledgements from school principals. Lansing High School principal Steve Dike recognized the school's football, volleyball and soccer teams for winning the Kaw Valley League title in each sport and the girls tennis team for having the most successful season in several years. He acknowledged the Kayettes for raising a record of $900 in their Trick or Treat for Breast Cancer campaign; Carla Scovill, Ken Church and the drama club for putting on "Greek to Me"; Sue Lednicky for receiving a $500 grant from the Lansing Educational Foundation Fund; and the 21 inductees to the LHS National Honor Society. He added that the Leadership class had collected "just shy of one ton" of food for the Leavenworth Assistance Center in the Trick or Treat for Cans event and said Leadership's Trick or Treat for Kids event was also a success. Dike also thanked Leadership and the school kitchen staff for putting on the senior citizens' Thanksgiving dinner on Friday.
Kerry Brungardt, Lansing Middle School principal, thanked parent volunteers for tutoring students who are struggling with reading skills and praised the eighth-grade volleyball and seventh-grade football teams for their undefeated seasons. He added that "the band program is awesome as ever."
Tim Newton, Lansing Elementary School principal, and Jan Jorgensen, Lansing Intermediate School principal, both congratulated the Lansing Educational Foundation Fund recipients in their buildings. Jorgensen also thanked Taco Bell for donating 1,000 gift certificates to the school to reward students for good behavior and academics.
Schools superintendent Randal Bagby thanked Newton for serving the country with his Kansas National Guard unit in New Orleans as well as Jorgensen and first-grade teacher Mary Noyes for stepping in to run LES in Newton's absence.
Board member Rob Nicholas congratulated the students who received band and choir honors, and board president Brian Bode thanked the Lansing Educational Foundation Fund for "doing what they said they were going to do" in distributing the grants. He also acknowledged the staff of Lansing Middle School and the Sound Spectrum choir for helping to make the Kansas Association of School Boards meeting, held at LMS in October, a success, and congratulated Dale Bohannon, director of building and grounds for the district, for being named Lansing Volunteer of the Year.
¢ Approved two out-of-district student enrollment requests.
¢ Approved changes to the Lansing Intermediate School site council. Julie McBroom and Tammy McKenzie were added to the council, and Fran Marshall was removed.
¢ Appointed board vice president Shelly Gowdy the Kansas Association of School Boards 2005 delegate and appointed the rest of the board as alternates.
¢ Approved board policy revisions, including policies limiting district liability for nonsanctioned field trips, updating information that will be used to counsel high school dropouts about potential income and allowing self-medication for inhalers or auto-injectable epinephrine for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The board also amended a policy to allow students to attend the University of Saint Mary for dual credit.
¢ Approved two early graduation requests.
¢ Appointed Jonnie Brice musical director and Becky Harris musical orchestra director.
¢ Accepted the resignation of LHS history teacher Kevin Riemann.