Board gives life to task force report

Board gives life to task force report by David Lias Vermillion School Superintendent Bob Mayer told the Vermillion School Board Monday night that it was time to take action on a task force report regarding new school facilities in the school district.

The board agreed, setting into motion a plan outlined by Mayer which sets specific goals for completing the steps necessary to eventually bring the decision of new school building construction to a vote of the people in a bond issue election.

"That report, I think, needs some response by the board," Mayer said. "This whole project needs to be put into some sort of perspective, so what I've tried to do with this step by step process is to give you a guideline if you are going to go ahead with this."

Mayer told the board that he believed it needed to make a decision that night "to do something or to do nothing. I don't think you need to decide to build it, I think that would be a mistake because you don't even know what it is going to cost at this point … but if the task force recommends that the board move in this direction, then I think you either have to move in this direction or not."

The second step Mayer recommended would be the selection of an architect. He suggested the board stay with the DLR architectural firm, which designed the addition to Austin Elementary School.

Mayer offered eight different steps for the board to complete in the coming months, and suggested deadlines for each step. Those steps include everything from meeting with the task force and deciding how much the project should cost, to communicating with the public and meeting with the city to discuss joint use of new facilities.

If the board is able to follow the scenario offered by Mayer, school district citizens could be voting on a bond issue for the new building construction by mid-May.

"I definitely would like to move ahead with the recommendations of the committee," Tom Craig, board president, said.

Board member Jim Kinney said, however, that the board must keep in mind that the farm economy and stock market presently are not doing well.

"The timeliness of the project leaves me a little bit concerned about binding ourselves with that debt," he said.

"I agree with Jim that in the back of our minds we may have some doubts about the economy," Floyd Boschee, board member said. "We may also find out in a year from now that the project could cost $100,000 or more than now if we wait."

The board agreed to approve the first three steps of Mayer's plan Monday night, in effect setting into motion his plan that eventually may make the facility task force's recommendation become reality.

Charge of task force

The role of the task force was to:

1. Investigate the need for the requested facilities.

2. Report to the school board any action that should be taken.

The report to the school board was to include the following:

1. No, there is no need or public support for facility expansion at this time; or

2. Yes, there is a need for the requested facilities.

3. If yes, the following items should be addressed in the report:

a. Prioritize the projects.

b. Recommend a funding plan.

c. Set a time line for a referendum and project completion.

Needs assessment

The original proposed additions to the high school as presented by school district staff included: enlargement of library area, addition of an auditorium with stage, addition of an auxiliary gymnasium with space for gymnastics, wrestling and a locker area.

The expansion of the library would also create the need for a new space for a commons/dining area within the kitchen.

The task force also reviewed and discussed other items for possible inclusion in the overall project. These included administrative offices, bus storage, additional classrooms, parking, storage, and kitchen and energy efficiency measures.

Following this review, the task force prioritized the items to be included in the proposed additions. The proposals, which included the original items as presented by the staff, were conveyed to the consultant in early February.

The first presentation from the consultant included 63,000 square feet of space costing $6,918,086. The majority of the new additions were proposed to be located to the east of the present building.

Following a meeting and discussions with the task force, the consultant presented a second proposal that provided 60,200 square feet of space at a cost of $6,471,453. The second layout presented the additions in a more central manner in relation to the existing building.

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