School Board approves summer construction projects

 

The mortar and paint are barely set from the construction of the Tri-City United High School and renovated Montgomery Elementary and Middle Schools, and the TCU Board of Education is planning more building projects scheduled for this summer.
On December 12, the district met with the Joint Facilities/Finance Committee and representatives of WOLD Architect, and discussed potential financing options for the district’s construction and maintenance projects for 2013 that will take care of leaking roofs, and lack of space in some of the buildings.
On December 20, Superintendent Matt Helgerson presented the proposed construction plans to the board. The projects included the construction of three new classrooms to Lonsdale Elementary, two new classrooms to Tri-City United High School, and roofing projects for Le Center Schools and one of the Montgomery Middle School buildings. Helgerson explained the construction is necessary due to the growth in the student population in the district.
“This is necessary to keep up with the growth of Lonsdale Elementary and the maintenance of the (other) buildings,” he said.
Lonsdale Elementary
The project for Lonsdale Elementary calls for the construction of three new classrooms. The plan calls for the conversion of the building’s current outdoor classroom, as well as the addition of two other rooms.
The price for Lonsdale is estimated to be $950,000.
TCU High School.
The plan calls for the addition of two full-size classrooms at the Tri-City United High School building. One room will be dedicated as a science classroom, while the second one will be used as a multi-use flex space, Helgerson said. 
He added that the addition of the rooms will free up current flex rooms for the Agriculture Department that lost space from the former Montogmery-Lonsdale High School. 
“This gives space back to the Ag. Department, something that makes sense now that we’re starting the Ag. Academy,” he said.
The cost of this construction project is estimated to be $614,980. The district plans to “buy down” the cost by $350,000, using  contingency money from the high school construction, then levying the remaining portion of $264.890.
The levy amount for the two construction projects is estimated to be $1.2 million. The estimated tax impact for TCU District residents is expected to be $12.13 a year on a $150,000 homestead residential property. 
To ease the tax burden to almost nothing, the district is also looking to refinance some of its bonds that would save district residents an estimated $15 a year on a $150,000 residential home. 
“So taxpayers should only see $3 a year increase on their taxes,” Helgerson said. “This (refinancing) is in the process. The wheels are in motion.”
During discussion, board member Debbie Struckman voiced concerns over adding more building space without using everything that it currently has.
“I feel like we’re rushing in to add to Lonsdale. I see that it is needed, but I think we need to look at the space we have and how it is used,” she said.
Board member Amy Barnett, who is also on the facilities committee, said they had talked about boundaries within the district, but concluded that the biggest need is in Lonsdale. She said it didn’t make sense to ship students from Lonsdale to Le Center. She added that Lonsdale Elementary also sits in a community of competing school districts, and keeping the kids in the local school is important.
“We have a great deal to lose over there (in Lonsdale) because the competition is very close,” Barnett said.
 
Roofing projects
The third project calls for completing the roofing project on the Montgomery Middle School 1953 building, as well as all Le Center roofing projects, with the exception of the varsity gymnasium.
The cost for this project is $280,000. The district plans to use $100,000 from contingency money from its Build America Bonds, and finance the rest through general facilities bonds, which will have no tax impact on district residents.
The board unanimously approved the construction plan which is expected to begin this spring.