County BOE eyes
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 15, 1999
By BRIAN BLACKLEY
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Published Sept. 15, 1999
A plan that will eliminate all of Pike County School System’s portable school buildings and that will rid the system of 50 percent of its substandard classrooms passed its first hurdle this week.
The plan, phase one of a five-year plan to improve facilities in the Pike County School System, would eliminate all portable classrooms diminish the number of substandard classrooms by 50 percent and re-roof all the buildings in the system that are in disrepair.
Proposed by Pike County School System superintendent John Key and assistant superintendent Mark Bazzell, the plan calls for $2.8 million in capital improvements through seven projects to complete phase one.
In assessing the needs of the school district, Bazzell said facilities are a top priority.
"This was prioritized in a way that met state criteria for getting rid of portable classrooms and eliminating substandard classrooms," Bazzell said. "We started with roofing to see to it that additional damage doesn’t occur to buildings. The next two priorities are elimination of portable classrooms and substandard classrooms."
The problem is funding. Phase one, broken into seven individual projects, will require an estimated $2.8 million. And according to Bazzell, phase two, which is currently in the planning stages, will likely cost "double or triple" that amount.
Monday the board opted to place a 25 percent leverage against state funds, meaning that a quarter of state monies will be used for the capital projects. This is expected to generate about $730,000. That money, when added to the $1.1 million that’s available from the 1998 bond issue, will go a long way toward completing phase one.
"It should get us through about the first four projects," Bazzell said.
The first priority, roofing of the 500 and 600 buildings at Goshen High School, the 200, 400 and Career Tech buildings at Pike County High School, and the 200 and 400 buildings at Pike County Elementary School is expected to cost about $282,000.
Project two of the plan is the construction of a 12-classroom building at Goshen Elementary School.
The building will replace five portable classrooms at GES that are in use, plus four classrooms that are in substandard condition. Three sixth grade classes, currently located at Goshen High School, would be shifted back to GES. This would fill the need for the 12-classroom facility at an estimated project cost of $700,000.
The third part of the project would be to construct a new building at Pike County High School that would have six classrooms, two science labs and a library. The space is needed for additional classrooms, and to eliminate the use of substandard classroom space and portable classrooms. The project is expected to cost $725,000.
"This would get the kids out of the five or six substandard classrooms there," Bazzell said.
A metal building to house PCHS’ weight room and to serve as space for two additional classrooms is the fourth part of the plan. Currently the athletic building at PCHS is condemned. Two classrooms in another building have been serving as the weight room, and Bazzell said the room is showing wear and tear.
"This is a function that the room was not designed for," he said. "This classroom is being used as a weight room."
The cost of the building is an estimated $125,000.
Fifth on the project list is building five classrooms at Banks Primary School to eliminate four substandard classrooms and one portable classroom. The cost of the project is $292,000. This is the first portion of phase one that would lack funding should the Board of Education proceed with the proposed plan.
Bazzell said the board could find funds for the first $1.8 million in capital improvements through the 25 percent leverage of funds and the money from the bond issue.
"We could leverage more funds from the state," he said. "The legal maximum is 95 percent, but our district uses state funds as operating revenues. Financially, we cannot afford to leverage additional funds."
Rounding out the projects are floor coverings for buildings and a modification to the Goshen High School gym to allow more seating.
Bazzell feels the plan is a good one.
"We did a lot of work on it," he said. Additionally, the plan takes into consideration substandard buildings which are assessed according to a specific criteria and are inspected by trained staff members.
"This is professionally done," Bazzell said. "Some buildings that need a lot of work are not considered substandard according to the criteria, and our plan doesn’t address them. That would be in phase two of our project. The priorities we had to develop were the main thing we had to work through."
Bazzell said the board did not approve the plan, but did vote to allow the school system to leverage state funds, a necessary step in the process.
Still, the first phase will lack about $1 million from being completed. Bazzell hopes that the funds can be secured in the future to see the plan to completion.