Kennerly, Sappington school improvements to be done this summer

Projects to be funded from voter-approved Prop R

By BURKE WASSON

A successful $32 million bond issue approved last week by Lindbergh School District voters will result in building improvements next summer to two schools — Kennerly Elementary and Sappington Elementary.

Director of Facilities Karl Guyer said last week that the district will focus on the summers of 2007, 2008 and 2009 to complete the repair and renovation projects planned for various Lindbergh schools.

Because of overcrowding at both Sappington and Kennerly, Guyer said those projects were chosen to be started and completed during the summer of 2007. He added that most projects funded through the bond issue would be done during the summers. That bond issue — Proposition R — was approved in the Nov. 7 election with 15,812 of 22,720 votes cast. That equates to garnering 69.57 percent of voter approval in the district. With that vote, the district eclipsed the 57.14 percent — or four-sevenths majority — it needed to pass the measure.

Prop R is described by Lindbergh administrators as a no-tax-rate-increase $32 million bond issue. The district’s debt-service tax rate will remain unchanged at 38 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, but it will be extended for a six-year period. The tax-rate extension from Prop R will end in 2026, according to Chief Financial Officer Pat Lanane.

Besides the partial building replacement at Sappington and the minor building addition at Kennerly, Prop R will fund a variety of projects in schools throughout the district, including new roofs, the replacement of rooftop HVAC units, classroom doors that lock from the inside for elementary schools, fire alarms and security cameras in most buildings.

With Sappington and Kennerly elementary schools, Guyer said the buildings simply are too small in size to accommodate the number of pupils and teachers in each school. For this reason, these projects were chosen to be completed first among all works to be funded through Prop R.

“There are areas of the building that cannot be effectively used,” Guyer said. “So we’re constrained on the Sappington site because of unavailable space. So that’s critical that that work start as soon as possible because it is an extended construction time frame to get that work completely done — not only build the new portion, and that needs to be built first so that can be occupied. And then once the new portion’s occupied, then we can remove the other portions of the building that are not going to be kept. And the board is still working through exactly which portions of the existing building will be removed. We can’t displace students to a different campus, and there’s not adequate space to set up trailers. So that process allows for construction to happen, that the work is completed. The school can use that area, move out of the other areas even if we’re going to keep portions of it, move out so that it’s safe, have the work done by the contractors, the portions removed and then what portions remain restored. Certainly, if you’re only taking a portion of a building down, you have to build a new in-wall and close it in and get everything back in a perfect operating scenario.

“That’s the same at Kennerly as well. The school has been out of space. We’ve used every space that’s available plus some and we absolutely need that addition brought on line as quickly as possible.”

The partial building replacement at Sappington Elementary is an estimated $8.55 million project, and the minor building addition at Kennerly Elementary is estimated to cost $2.65 million. Bids for both projects are expected to be requested in two rounds — one for foundation work and another for construction — during the spring.

“We won’t start anything prior to that (summer),” Guyer said. “We will have a preliminary bid package for foundations, grading and utility work. And I think that will be for both projects. The bid package will probably be available some time in February. And then we’ll have a second bid package in probably April or May for the balance of the construction work. So we’ll kind of bid it in two pieces so we can help push the schedule along.”

Other than voters’ passage of Prop R, Lanane also credits the school board’s foresight in August to approve $815,000 in pre-design services for the renovation and repair projects in the district. Without this approval of pre-design services, Lanane said construction on Sappington and Kennerly likely would not have begun until 2008.

“If you remember, we had a big push about early planning,” Lanane said. “Well, that’s going to pay off now because we’ll actually be able to do some projects this next summer. And I think a lot of people take that for granted. ‘Well, you passed it in November. Sure, you’ll be able to start in the summer.’ You really can’t if you haven’t done pre-planning. We need to have probably literally hundreds of thousands of pages of documents put together in order to bid out some of these early projects in February. And if you waited until now, it really wouldn’t be possible to pull that together. Almost no architectural firm would do that, and it’s not wise. If you move too fast, you’re going to make some mistakes in your planning. So that’s why the whole point now of going and having that early pre-approval is so critical. It’s a little bit of a gamble.

“Although, as we said, most of these projects are ones we’re going to do eventually no matter what. But now is the real payoff. By having done that, we can get them out to bid in February and then we’ll be actually able to start some projects in June ’07, which otherwise you’re looking June ’08. And I just think that was too long to wait.”

As projects are planned throughout the next few years, Superintendent Jim Sandfort said an Oversight Committee would be presenting a monthly fund analysis of monies spent from Prop R at each Board of Education meeting.

That information will also be shared on the Lindbergh School District’s Web site. The superintendent’s rationale for that is simply to continue the trust voters had in the district when they voted last week in favor of Prop R.

“Every month, starting in December, we’ll be reporting to the board,” Sandfort said. “And if folks are interested in sort of monitoring the progress and keeping on top of how the money is being spent, they’re certainly welcome to attend any board meeting. And all the results in the board meeting and the reports that Karl puts together will be posted on our Web site under the Prop R icon. So we want to be sure the community becomes and stays aware of the progress. When we went out and asked for their support and indicated how much or how badly these projects were needed, our commitment now is to keep the community informed and fully apprised of the cost and the progress and everything else associated with the implementation of Prop R.”

Sandfort also expressed gratitude to the Lindbergh community for approving the debt-service tax-rate extension for another six years.

“We’re so especially grateful to our community for its support for getting informed about the issues, for knowing what was at stake and for stepping forward and giving us the vote of confidence,” Sandfort said. “We’re looking forward to completing the construction and being able to get back to the task of educating our youngsters and knowing that the facility and the safety needs are going to be taken care of.”

“It (voter approval) was just shy of 70 percent. We could not be more thrilled with the level of support. We don’t take that support for granted. We view that as a matter of trust for our community. And we’re committed to doing the projects right and to doing them on time and we’re going to get them done within budget.”