Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 20, 2017

Possible projects range from $14.2 to $27.5 million

By Mary Zielinski | Jul 10, 2013

WELLMAN — Everything from a Central Office building to also house Mid-Prairie’s Alternative Learning Center (ALC) to a middle school gym and a high school auditorium were on project lists reviewed by the Mid-Prairie Board of Education Monday.  Price tag for the projects range from an estimated high of $27.5 million for the full 22 priority list to $14.2 million for 8 that would include the central office and the auditorium.  The latter would have no middle school gym addition, no high school classroom addition, no alternative learning center and no Home School Assistance Program (HSAP) facility.
The full list, which is an update of the priorities developed by the district’s planning committee in 2010 to be done in a one to more than 10 year period, addresses needs at all five attendance centers as well as an administrative office and a five-classroom Home School Assistance Program (HSAP) facility at the middle school in Kalona. In fact, in a survey of the HSAP that had Washington Township as preferred location, 100 percent of the participants would remain in the program if it moved to Kalona. the planning committee recommended Kalona “due to potential benefit to both HSAP and the middle school.”
Funding sources would be the sale of bonds (the district’s capacity ranges form $7.6 to $13.8 million), borrowing against future sales tax revenue (which has been done before) for $2.5 million, using available sales tax funds, $2.5 million; seeking grants, and obtaining donations, which could be project specific.  Currently, the district has $2.5 million in reserves.
Superintendent Mark Schneider and board members agreed that “needs of the students and district should drive prioritization,” and equally agreed that not all projects will be able to be included.
“We cannot do all, some will have to be sacrificed,” said Schneider.
During the discussion, board member Jim Hussey noted a bond issue could go to the voters in February. It is equally possible it would not be until September.
The review of the long term plans was done by Tandi Dausener and Tim Fehr from Shive-Hattery, architecture and engineering, of Iowa City, who told the board there are no immediate problems at the sites.
Hussey also asked about future maintenance, noting there would be a large increase in facilities’ footage, as well as what would be involved in operations. The maintenance is not expected to be a problem, but operations will be figured into the actual plans when the actual projects are decided.
Members of the planning committee in attendance, noted it will be a major bond issue with Ryan Miller, also the mayor of Wellman, stressing that the projects “have to be how to best serve the students,” citing the central office and the ALC as one.  He also urged, “if you build it, build it big enough” referring to any of the additions.
However, he said that there have been concerns voiced from local taxpayers about Mid-Prairie joining with Kalona regarding a gym and other facilities combining with a community center for Kalona.
“Wellman built Parkside, a $6 million facility,” he said and while Mid-Prairie uses it, it did not help build it.
Schneider said that any arrangement with Kalona would be based strictly on the respective needs of Mid-Prairie and Kalona with financing accordingly.  However, the joint project could save funds for both, possibly as much as $1.3 million for Mid-Prairie, and that would be worth looking at.
The board will review the plans and projects to determine priorities from the 22 item list.
In other business, the board…
•approved violent event insurance coverage to cover possible injuries or more reuslting from an event on school property; and
•approved a 28E Agreement with the Keota School District for school nurse services that will pay Mid-Prairie $125,000 in state incentive funds. The move involved hiring Kathy Greiner at $35,000.

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