South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

District will use other funds for some Prop S projects

District will use money from feds, previous propositions
Proposition S construction at Blades Elementary School in the Mehlville School District on Aug. 15, 2022.

Rising construction and labor costs have forced the Mehlville School District to find alternative funding methods for some facility projects originally slated to be covered by Proposition S.

The Mehlville Board of Education voted unanimously May 18 to approve a resolution laying out alternative sources of funding for several Prop S projects, which includes using money from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund, or ESSER, as well as previous propositions and the district’s capital fund.

Proposition S was a $35 million no-tax-rate-increase bond measure approved by voters in April 2021 to fund facility improvements at all of the district’s buildings, including the installation of secure entry vestibules at all schools. Due to inflation and the rising costs of goods and labor, the district has already had to find alternative funding methods for some projects or eliminated other projects all together when it became clear the $35 million would not cover the original Prop S “to-do” list.

Some of the changes approved by the board May 18 include using ESSER funds to cover the cost of Rogers Elementary and Beasley Elementary HVAC projects, using $500,000 from 2016’s Proposition A  to fund a portion of the Buerkle Middle School roof project, and using $100,000 out of the district’s 410 capital fund  and $1.4 million from 2015’s Proposition R to fund a portion of phase two of the Bierbaum Elementary project.

“We’ve been making steady progress with projects in the district but you’ll remember if we go back well in time, as we were beginning to get our first few bids and revised cost estimates in 2021, we were quickly seeing that the construction industry as a whole, costs were going up in a manner that were going to cause us to have to look at things,” Superintendent Chris Gaines said.

The board previously moved in May 2022 to eliminate two projects from the Prop S project list, including new stadium restrooms at Mehlville High School and a new district transportation building.

Despite some of the setbacks, several projects have been completed since Prop S’s passage over two years ago, including Forder Elementary HVAC, the Oakville Elementary parking lot and security entrance, the Rogers Elementary parking lot and security entrance, Bernard security entrance, and the Oakville High School ballfields, security entry and restroom renovations.

“Energy continues to keep moving us in a good direction,” Executive Director of Planning and Operations Chad Dickemper said at the May 18 meeting.

Projects currently underway are phase one of the Bierbaum renovations, which is “going according to plan,” said Dickemper. Major site work at Bierbaum begins May 30 and includes utilities, demolition, concrete and landscaping with final occupancy inspection slated to take place in July.

The board approved a $10.63 million bid May 18 for phase two of the Bierbaum project, which will include the addition of new classrooms and an expanded library.

“It’s about to be a very busy season,” Dickemper said of Bierbaum.

At Mehlville High School, work is underway on the new baseball field. Fencing has been installed and the field continues to be graded, with seeding and sodding expected to take place soon.

“The ball field has really picked up in terms of construction,” Dickemper said. “Next week the dugouts for the ball fields are expected to begin, so that will be exciting.”

Work is expected to be completed at Hagemann Elementary by the time students return in the fall for the school year. Security windows and safety film will be installed by the end of June, with security doors slated to be placed mid-July. New carpet will also be installed in July.

Currently out for bidding is Point Elementary, with bids due back by June 8. Bidding for John Cary Early Childhood and Mehlville High School — a bid package — will take place in June, with bids due in July.

“I think we have a really good plan, the conceptuals are being shored up and we’ll bring you some more details … soon,” Dickemper said.

Projects slated to go out to bid in the fall include a bid package for Buerkle Middle, Beasley Elementary and Forder Elementary. Bids for the Wohlwend Elementary and Oakville Middle will go out in December, with bids due in January.

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