Manila School Board discusses building possibilities

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Manila School Board met in a special meeting Nov. 5 to discuss a new/renovated high school building project. George Krennerich, AIA architect with Brackett Krennerich, and Marshall Hughes, vice president of First Security Beardsley Public Finance, were on hand to discuss the board's options.

Board president Danny Robbins thanked them for their assistance as the board discusses the pros and cons of renovation/addition to new building.

The cost estimate for renovation/addition is $5,771,986 and a new building is $10,099,115. That does not include the purchase of off site property for construction of a new high school facility.

Superintendent Pam Castor said if the district is approved for partnership funding, the cost to the district would be an estimated $1,618,349 for renovation and $2,831,589 for new construction.

"George is here to answer any questions you have about construction and Marshall is here to explain our financing options," Castor said.

Krennerich said buildings over 50 years old will not be approved for renovation. He said the demolition and new building sites would have to be taken into consideration in the cost.

Board member Tommy Wagner asked if the school would be gaining growth room in a renovation project or would the district be facing the same problem down the road in a few years.

They talked about the cost to demolish, an estimate for the extra cost of maintaining two campuses, possible growth, millage, etc.

Krennerich said there would be the same square footage in either renovation or new building. The quality of the spaces may not be the same. Renovation obviously will not be the quality of new construction. He said in some cases walls would be removed and two classrooms would make one.

"Anything over 50 years old will have to demolished," he said.

They also discussed where the students would be housed during renovation.

The earliest the school could be approved and begin construction would be 2015.

"It boils down to cost," Wagner said. "Can we afford it if nothing happens?"

"Can we do it without an increase in millage?" Board member Danny Robbins asked. "We don't know about the economy."

Marshall said it would take an increase in millage with refinancing for 30 years. He estimated renovation would take at least a .5 mill increase and new construction would need at least 1.6 to 2.0 mill increase.

Wagner said he would think the community would support a 1.5 mill increase for a new high school.

Crowell said people will need to know exactly how much a mill would cost them.

Hughes said he would run the numbers when he got back to the office on how much the increase would raise and the cost to the homeowners.

Krennerich pointed out new fixtures and furniture would an additional cost.

Hughes talked about a time line for a vote to increase millage. Schools can have only one election a year.

"I want to be positive," Wagner said. "We grew by 35 students this year and I think we will continue to grow. This is a very important decision we have to make."

Board members agreed they want to seek public input. They also agreed they want Manila District to be as good as any school in the state for the students and the community.

"We want the public to know there is only a 1.1 difference in renovation and new construction," Wagner said. "We want to do what the majority of the people want if it is renovate or build new. We are here to represent them."

"We want to be honest with the people and hear from them," Board member Tracey Reinhart said. "We will need to compare the cost of running two campuses. We will need to make sure we get the most for the money. We need to have all of the facts before we go to the community."

"You have a year to make a decision," Krennerich said. "We can help plan public meetings. You may want to straw poll the community."

"I feel we will see more consolidation in the future," Board member Johnny McCain said. "We want to be in a good position with a new building, better test scores, a good curriculum and be able to stay where we are."

Crowell expressed a concern on having housing to accommodate new families.

Krennerich pointed out they had a little time to work on it.

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