Archive for Thursday, February 16, 2006

District now forecasting 2008 opening of new school

February 16, 2006

The new Lansing Elementary School will not open in time for the start of the 2007-08 school year, Lansing school board president Brian Bode announced Monday at the board's meeting.

A revised timeline for the school bond projects currently has construction on the elementary school, as well as the high school auditorium, slated for completion in November 2007, more than two months after school starts.

Voters approved the $23.6 million bond projects, construction of a K-5 elementary school and high school auditorium, in April 2005. Bond supporters and board members expected the projects to be finished by August 2007, in time to start the school year in the new buildings.

Now, Bode said he hoped students could be moved to the new elementary school in January 2008.

Delays have resulted from the board's postponement of the approval of the project designs, Bode said Wednesday. He said the board took extra time to get staff input, cut costs and make the design of both buildings better.

"We've just been working on a design that fit our needs and a design that fits our budget," he said. "We wanted the safest, most functional, best design we could get, and it took us time."

The board has struggled to keep the projects within the budget, Bode said, due to unexpected events. For one, the drilled pier foundation required for the auditorium added about $100,000 to the cost of that building. Hurricane Katrina and general inflation have increased the cost of construction materials, he said.

On Monday, the process was further stalled. Two representatives from Wilson and Company, Engineers and Architects, presented design drawings of both bond project buildings, which showed details from where sewer lines would run to the number of parking spaces to the types of lighting and ceiling tiles to be used in each area of the buildings. The architects had hoped the board would finally deliver its stamp of approval at the meeting so the project can move to the construction documents phase, leading to the point where the projects can be let for bid.

Instead, the board directed Jon Plumer, chief architect for Wilson and Company, to create an estimate that includes a full standing-seam metal roof for the elementary school. The current design showed a flat roof.

Board vice president Shelly Gowdy brought up the issue of the type of roof when Plumer presented the drawings showing a flat roof with pieces of standing-seam metal roofing only near the front entrance and two patios next to the cafeteria.

Her biggest concern, Gowdy said, is that flat roofs tend to leak, which causes other problems in the building. Other schools in the district recently have had problems with their flat roofs that required patching or replacement, she said.

Plumer said the metal roof would be more expensive, costing roughly $8.50 to $9 per square foot, compared with about $6.50 to $7 per square foot for the flat roof. Also, Plumer said, having a metal roof would require that equipment such as air-handling units be placed inside the building rather than on top, adding square footage and, ultimately, more cost.

The board will review Plumer's estimate for the alternative roof next week. It tabled approval of the designs and scheduled a special meeting for 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20, in the Lansing Middle School choir room. Bode said he was nearly certain the board would finish the design process next week and approve the drawings after reviewing the estimate.

In other action, the board:

¢ Adopted an amended agenda and consent agenda.

¢ Heard presentations from Lansing High School students Miranda Nichols, Stefan Dumlao and Michael Brooks about the influence of Ken Church, LHS English teacher and forensics coach. At Monday's meeting, the board considered Church's letter stating his intent to retire from full-time teaching at the end of this school year. He said he would like to continue to be the forensics coach and teach part-time, if the board would allow. The board "reluctantly" accepted Church's retirement later in the meeting but took no action regarding the status of forensics coach.

¢ Heard a presentation from Drew Brickson, parent of a Lansing Elementary School student, of praise and concern about the construction on the school bond projects. Brickson praised Bagby for his responsiveness to Brickson's concerns about the slow progress of the projects. Brickson said he was concerned as a parent, citizen and taxpayer that the board was not releasing enough information about the status of the bond projects. Bond supporters made promises during the campaign, Brickson said, and people want to know how those are panning out. "Let's get this information out," he urged the board.

¢ Heard acknowledgements from school principals. Kerry Brungardt, LMS, commended eighth-grader Kelly Phillips, who, with help from the school's social worker, raised $1,100 for her cousin who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Kelly implemented a fundraiser where students could pay $1 to wear a hat to school on Jan. 27. Steve Dike, LHS, recognized students Chelsea Harrington, Brooke Hentschel and Rachel Schifferle, who were chosen to participate in the Coterie Theater Young Playwright's Roundtable, and English teacher Linda Leffler, who helped the students apply. Jan Jorgensen, Lansing Intermediate School, and Tim Newton, Lansing Elementary School, thanked the Lansing Parent-Teacher Association for providing breakfast and lunch at parent-teacher conferences earlier this month. Board president Brian Bode also acknowledged the district's winter sports teams for their success.

¢ Reviewed the construction fund report.

¢ Reviewed administrative reports.

¢ Heard a presentation on the LMS performance on the 2005 state assessments. LMS earned the standard of excellence in all five areas tested, which presenter Steve Magner, LMS teacher, said was a unique distinction. In his research, Lansing was the biggest if not the only school to earn it.

¢ Reviewed a second draft of the 2006-07 school year calendar. School would start Aug. 16 and end May 25, 2007, according to the draft.

¢ Approved a request from A Deere Place daycare to continue to occupy space in the Sallie Zoll building of Lansing Elementary School.

¢ Approved a request by Terry Cornett, LHS softball coach, to use two district gyms and waive usage and janitorial fees associated with the MAYB basketball tournament April 8-9, which is a fundraiser for the softball team. After the approval, Bode directed Bagby to work with Dale Bohannon, director of building and grounds for the district, to look at the staffing policy for extra events like the tournament. Bohannon told the board the MAYB tournament would require about 40 hours of overtime from his staff, and that such requests were mounting and may cause staffing challenges in the future.

¢ Approved, 5-1, a request by USSSA Baseball to use the LMS gym for practice one night per week and waive usage and janitorial fees. Board member Craig Gephart opposed the request, and board member Gary Courtney was absent from the meeting.

¢ Approved a change to board policy on dedication of buildings. The change removes language stating an individual must be deceased, not employed by the district and not serving on the school board to have a building dedicated in their name.

¢ Set a joint school board-City Council meeting for 6 p.m. April 10 in the LMS choir room.

¢ Reviewed reports of parent attendance at parent-teacher conferences.

¢ Met for 45 minutes in executive session to discuss personnel matters.

¢ Approved the resignation of Bryan Shelley as LHS tennis coach, appointed Rachel Elkins as LHS tennis coach, approved a sick-leave donation to Jessica Asbury and extended contracts for all district administrators until June 30, 2008.

¢ Set a special meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 20 in the LMS choir room for final review of construction projects.

¢ Adjourned at 10:17 p.m.

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