The Board of Education previewed conceptual drawings for a new district administrative office building during a workshop session on November 4th. Funds for the new district office site, at an estimated cost of $5.5-6 million, would be paid for using funds designated for capital improvements and remaining bond funds from the recent high school addition approved by voters in June 2020.
In an email announcing the plan to parents and district patrons on November 12th, the district made mention of concerns regarding teacher and staff pay, explaining that capital and bond funding cannot be used for payroll, and that the Board and leadership are “committed to improved pay and expect to have a plan in place soon for addressing pay over the next few years.”
The district, anticipating the need for a new space, has set aside capital improvement funds for the past several years, and a bond balance of $3 million from the recent high school addition made the project possible at this time.
The proposed district office will be located on property the district owns at the intersection of Eagles Parkway and Sni-A-Bar Boulevard, directly south of the district transportation center.
The current district office building, located in a former home and family business on Pink Hill Road was acquired by the District along with adjacent land in 2004. The original home on the south end of the unique property was built in 1942.
North Middle School, the Early Childhood Center, and a maintenance facility are located on the land acquired in 2004, and the district has purchased adjacent property for future schools.
While the current building has served the district well for several years, lack of space, accessibility issues, and a long list of costly repairs guided district leadership to pursue a new space, according to Dr. Brad Welle, Deputy Superintendent for Student and Community Services.
Welle stated the district had sought options to build onto the existing building and address needed repairs, but were advised that an addition could not be tied to the existing structure, and the cost to address needed repairs and ensure ADA compliance would be impractical to pursue.
“At that time, their initial look was that it was going to cost at least a million dollars just in renovations to the existing building,” Welle said. While constructing a new building next to the current building is a possibility, architects consulted indicated it would be too costly and impractical to tie the two buildings together.
To adjust as growth has occurred, the district has moved departments to other buildings. The technology department was moved to North Middle School and operations staff office out of the transportation building.
“As we grow, we have to boot another department out of the building. Just from the standpoint for planning. we’ve outlived the capacity of what this building can do for us.”
The proposed district office will not return those departments to central office due to cost concerns.
“It is a strict replacement of the current function of this building,” Welle said.
Beyond the space limitations of the current building, there are a number of costly structural issues common to older structures. The basement of the building floods consistently, and items stored in the basement have been raised on pallets to attempt to alleviate any damage when water seeps in. Large sections of drywall have been removed from the bottom of walls along the basement due to water damage. Significant settling outside and cracks along the foundation in the basement are evident, along with visible cracks along the brick exterior of the building.
The project is scheduled to go out for bid in January. The Board will vote once bids are available, and if approved, construction would begin March 2022 with a target completion date of late 2022.
The existing building will be razed with the future use of the space to be determined.