Lindbergh planning to break ground on two Prop R projects

Prop R projects being done at right time, Simpson says

By MIKE ANTHONY

“Groundbreaking activities” for two projects being constructed as part of Lindbergh Schools’ Proposition R 2008 bond issue are expected to take place next month, according to Superintendent Jim Simpson.

The superintendent told the Call he anticipates ground will be broken in December for the new Concord Elementary School and the district’s new Early Childhood Education, or ECE, building.

Concord School, which currently houses the district’s ECE program, is being converted into an elementary school while the new ECE building will be constructed next to the district’s Administration Building at 4900 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

“In December, we should be seeing groundbreaking activities at both Concord Elementary and the ECE building, which is right next to us on the high school campus. So those should be occurring in December,” Simpson said.

District voters approved Proposition R 2008, a $31 million bond issue, in November 2008. Proposition R received 20,378 “yes” votes — 72.4 percent — and 7,770 “no” votes — 27.6 percent. A four-sevenths majority was needed to approve the measure, which did not increase Lindbergh’s debt-service tax rate, but extended the current rate of 38 cents per $100 of assessed valuation an additional five years.

The Board of Education had placed Proposition R 2008 on the ballot with the goal of providing a long-term solution to space concerns at Sperreng Middle School.

More than 1,300 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders are jammed into the middle school that was designed to accommodate 800 pupils when it opened in 1970.

While Sperreng will remain a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school, funds from Proposition R will be used to convert Truman Elementary School to a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school.

Besides the Concord Elementary and ECE projects, Proposition R will fund additions at Crestwood and Long elementary schools.

Simpson said the Concord Elementary and ECE projects have sparked a great deal of interest from construction firms.

“We have over three dozen companies bidding — more than have bid on buildings in this district or any district I’ve ever been in,” he said. “It is certainly in the taxpayers’ interest to build buildings at this time because many of these companies are very aggressive in their pricing because they need to stay in business, they need to make sure that their equipment is in motion and their workers have something to do. So we will benefit from expected very favorable pricing on these bids.”

The Board of Education could consider awarding contracts for the two projects when it meets Tuesday, Dec. 8.

“We are hopeful that at the Dec. 8 board meeting that we will perhaps have a low bid or bids for the board to approve,” Simpson said, noting firms could submit either separate bids for the two projects or a combined bid for the two projects. “… It’s the first time in a long time that we’re expecting the bids to be very favorable for the school district and the taxpayer. If there’s a silver lining in building in a recessionary year, that would be it.”

As proposed, all of the Proposition R construction and renovation work would be completed by August 2011 — before the start of the 2011-2012 school year.

With the district’s enrollment increasing, Simpson noted the timing of the Proposition R projects couldn’t be better.

“… Given our increase in enrollment and our trend lines that show a further increase in enrollment over the coming years, without Prop R ’08 we’d be severely overcrowded in the near future,” he said. “But Prop R ’08 will alleviate that and take us just where we need to be. So it’s an example of good planning at the right time and we appreciate having the ability to meet those needs and not have overcrowding in our classrooms and buildings.”