Mehlville officials seek federal stimulus funds for COMPASS projects

School district’s request would create 350 construction jobs

By BURKE WASSON

With public entities across the nation asking Congress for federal economic-stimulus funds, Mehlville School District officials also will seek a slice of the pie.

Mehlville officials plan to submit a $42,265,000 request primarily to fund facilities projects included in the first phase of recommendations gathered in 2007 and 2008 from the school district’s public-engagement program, COMPASS — Charting the Oakville-Mehlville Path to Advance Successful Schools.

Congress is expected to grant economic-stimulus requests by mid-February with money being delivered to government entities in May.

While Superintendent Terry Noble said he would be happy to receive federal funding for just one of the school district’s proposed infrastructure projects, the projects included in Mehlville’s request will remain priorities regardless whether federal funding is granted.

“We’re doing our due diligence to show we’re ready and what we can get to work on right away,” Noble said. “It fits into our long-range plan. It’s exactly what we are hoping to achieve, wherever the source of funding comes from. It’s something that is a top priority for us to get this plan moving in the near future, whether it’s with this funding or some other source. But we hope this is an opportunity to get some help with it.”

The district’s request would create a total of 350 construction jobs along with 21 permanent jobs that Mehlville officials would add upon projects’ completion.

If any projects are approved, construction would begin within 90 days of funding approval. All Mehlville projects would be completed within one year of the start of construction.

The projects sought by district officials have been identified through an evaluation tool published by the Council of Educational Facility Planners International that benchmarks state and national standards.

Mehlville’s requested projects are: HVAC upgrades, lighting upgrades, roof replacements, new bleachers, improved drainage, site lighting, accessibility with the Americans with Disabilities Act, stop lights, signage, remediation of sink holes, asbestos remediation, security hardware, fire-alarm upgrades, replacement of playground equipment, second exits from sites, improved acoustics, building settlements, upgraded instructional technology, entrance interior finishes and drinking fountains.

The district’s proposal states: “The Mehlville School District is at a crossroads of change. Moving to a 21st century curriculum delivery requires buildings conducive to teaching methodologies and technologies necessary to support preparing students for citizenry and work force situations that will exist in the 21st century.

“Mehlville School District needs financial assistance to advance student achievement and provide safer, healthier, and more energy efficient and environmentally friendly facilities. Financial assistance is needed since 81 percent of the district’s total revenue comes from local sources, primarily the homeowner, due to the absence of commercial and industrial property. The situation presents a huge burden on the local homeowner and prohibits the district’s ability to acquire funding for critical improvements.”

Desired outcomes listed in the district’s proposal are: “We will advance student achievement through improved facilities that are safer, healthier, more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Utilizing alternate energy sources, our buildings will become a model for others across the nation and help us to reach our nation’s goal of energy independence and a healthier environment. Also, savings from energy costs will free up operational funds to be put directly back into the classroom.”

To qualify for economic-stimulus funds, the district’s proposals had to display an economic and environmental benefit to the community.

Environmental benefits include high energy efficiency with HVAC upgrades and lighting upgrades.