WEBSTER COUNTY, KY (11/21/12) – Discussion at Monday night’s Webster County School Board Meeting in Providence was heated as once again talk turned to the Webster County Middle School, but this time it was the board’s turn to be upset.
To get right to the point, there will be no new Webster County Middle School until at least August of 2014.
After discussing how one modification to the Middle School Administrative suite could save the district $800,000 to $900,000 by creating classrooms instead of a front office, Architect Scott Noel blindsided the board with the news.
“We were rushing through this to get everything ready for next school year,” he said. “Looking back at everything we realize that you all are not going to be able to do that. We feel that with this, you could possibly look at a December (2013) move in, or since we’re saving some money, you could try to complete Phase One and Two before you move it.”
“That kind of puts us in a bind,” said Tim McCormick, who was acting Chairman in the absence of Jim Nance. “We know we don’t have room at some of our other facilities. And it takes a while to even get temporary classrooms.”
“I don’t think it’ll take as long to get your industrialized units as you think,” Noel told him.
He then explained that the state gets thirty days to approve or disapprove design plans. By the time those get back and the district advertises the job bid, it would be late January or early February before they could bond the money. Construction couldn’t possibly start, he told the board, until late February or early March. A minimum of eight months worth of construction would be needed to get the structure into a usable state.
“The decision I need from you is do you want the (admin) suite as designed, or as I proposed tonight?” Noel asked.
“Why is the administrative suite such an issue in the overall construction?” Steve Henry asked.
“It would be better suited if we turned that area into usable classroom space,” Noel said. “You’re administration can be in portable units for a year or two.”
“What changed?” E Carolyn Tucker asked.
“Paper work with the state,” Noel replied.
“Is this new? Did this just come up?” Tucker asked.
“Not really,” Noel told her. “When we looked at our budget we found that with one change we could save a great deal of money.”
“What changed to make the time crunch an issue?” Tucker asked again.
“The time it’s taking the KDE to review the permits,” he said, explaining that the state had thirty days to approve each part of the permit, including temporary waivers for the FMD - functional mental disability - facilities. “There might come a time when you ask us to proceed when we don’t have approval from the state.”
“Are you saying the process might go faster if we don’t ask for FMD waivers?” asked Jeff Pettit.
Noel replied that even if they gave the approval for what he was asking Monday night, it would still be November before they reached “substantial completion” on the Middle School.
“At (the last board meeting in Dixon) there was some question about the administrative suite being ready,” said Steve Henry. “I said then I wasn’t worried about the admin. I was worried about the bricks and mortar. I was told I didn’t have to worry about that.”
Conferring with Superintendant James Kemp and Sebree Principal Aaron Collins the board concluded they would need at least two portable units in Sebree to handle the overcrowding, a $200,000 prospect.
“I hate it that this comes back to the dollar,” Henry said. “Where is the extra $200,000 going to come from?”
Dr. Kemp asked Noel about bidding the job for six months instead of eight, and putting the money saved on the administrative suite towards the excelled construction cost. The architect told him there would be no way to know until bid day, in February.
“We should have known this two months ago,” Jeff Pettit told Noel. “We’ve been asking every meeting. We’ve been telling everybody it would be ready in time. Now it's not.”
With regret, the board decided that the best thing for the students of Webster County was to take a step back and make sure they do things correctly, deciding that they will delay the opening of the Middle School until the 2014-2015.
The board also approved the purchase of five new school buses for a total price of $490, 705. Four of these will be regular service buses, and the fifth will be a handicap accessible bus.
J-E News Editor
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