Meeting at the Star Center (with the board’s meeting room undergoing renovations at the central office), board members talked with a mixture of school officials in determining what projects have the highest priority of need.
Using a conservative estimate of funds available from sales tax revenue by financial officer Brenda Carson, the board asked Director of Schools Dr. Martin Ringstaff to come to November’s meeting with a list of the top facilities priorities, which were rearranged somewhat during Monday’s discussions.
The board met in February and came up with a list of long-range facilities needs, listed in order from 1 to 20. Since that time, principals have added to their list.
Carson said the school system had more than $400,000 for these needs at the start of the school year, estimating the board should have around $700,000 available in June.
Carson projects the board has approximately $300,000 of “flexible” revenue money each year. The board is pondering how best this money can be spent on facilities.
Board members were taken aback early in Monday’s meeting when maintenance supervisor Bob True commented on plans to replace HVAC and energy management software in the east wing and in the dome (gymnasium) at Cleveland High School.
Board members, in February, had apparently believed this project was primarily the software when it was placed in the No. 5 priority spot on the list of 20. True shattered that assumption Monday when he said this is a “big-ticket item” that will cost more than $1 million.
“What you’re telling me,” asked Dr. Ringstaff, “is that you approved this in February, but you didn’t understand what you were approving?” The board agreed they didn’t realize it would be such an expensive project.
Realization of the cost of HVAC units at the high school ignited a lengthy discussion among board members, and a decision to drop the high school project down the priority list.
True and Cleveland High School Principal Autumn O’Bryan disagreed with the decision.
Taking into consideration the estimate of $300,000 in flexible income each year, Ringstaff said, “To get the HVAC done in the east wing at the high school, you’re looking at freezing everything else for three years.”
“It seems that No. 5 (Cleveland High’s HVAC units) has thrown us for a loop,” said board chair Peggy Pesterfield. She asked if the board might be able to combine this high-dollar project with plans to construct a new elementary school.
Asked by board member Dawn Robinson about the status of Cleveland High’s HVAC system right now, True said, “System failure could happen at any time.”
Ringstaff said he believes the board needs to review its vote, and priority, of the HVAC project.
“If we take No. 5 off the list, for more consideration, can we move on with the other projects?” Pesterfield asked.
That action was eventually taken, but not before there was considerable discussion on the high school’s needs for the new HVAC system. It was discussed that the project could be done in phases.
The Cleveland High project was moved down the list, slightly.
True is to provide the board with cost estimates for three vehicles needed by the school system.
These vehicles include a 10-passenger activity van, a delivery truck and a cargo van. It is estimated these three vehicles will cost around $100,000. The three items were moved up the list from 7, 8 and 9 to 1, 2 and 3.
One item that generated considerable discussion was the need for painting at schools throughout the system. Painting projects were not on the original list, but have been moved into a position ahead of Cleveland High’s HVAC project. It is hoped some of the painting can begin immediately, especially at the Teen Learning Center and Yates Elementary.
It was mentioned that Yates Elementary has never been painted, and has the same carpet it opened with 18 years ago.
Moving up on the priority list is another “somewhat” big-ticket item for Cleveland High School, but not as costly as the HVAC units. This project is the renovation and upgrades of the high school’s Little Theater.
Faculty member and music/drama instructor Shirley Pace has obtained a number of (unofficial) cost estimates for the Little Theater project. It appears the renovation will cost around $100,000 ($90,000 to $120,000).
Cost of 275 seats is expected to be between $25,000 to $30,000, although Pace recommends purchasing seats with arm rests, which would be $10 to $15 more per seat. Lighting for the theater would be around $30,000 with another $30,000 for the sound system.
The theater renovation was tentatively moved up on the list, ahead of the high school’s HVAC project falling into the No. 6 slot, at this time.
Projects falling in behind the HVAC project include renovation of physical education lockers and refurbishing restrooms and showers in the volleyball gym locker room at Cleveland High School, complete renovation at Ross Elementary, complete renovation at Yates Elementary, outside renovation, carpet and tile at TLC, paving at Arnold School, paving driveways and parking lots at Stuart School and several other projects at the high school.
This tentative list does not include any of the additional items provided by principals recently, except for some painting needs.
Several of the projects approved in February have been completed, including the replacement of cafeteria windows at Blythe-Bower, four 78-passenger school buses for transportation, a bus for special-needs students and replacement of an HVAC unit at the Teen Learning Center. Replacement of energy management software at Cleveland Middle School is in the process of being completed.
Board members were asked by Ringstaff to take the two lists, review the requests, and possibly merge the two. Even with an updated list, available funding will be the key to a majority of the school system’s facilities needs.