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Committee continues to weigh bond options





With a cost estimate of nearly $100 million for the master plan of improvements generated by the USD 489 facilities needs committee, members are ready to take a closer look.

The committee, district administrators and board of education president Greg Schwartz and vice president Darren Schumacher met with representatives from HTK Architects Friday morning.

"We just need to say, is $98 million acceptable? In my opinion, no, it's not," Paul Briseno said. "Let's get real about this and start working where we need to work at."

The numbers include deferred maintenance on the buildings' exterior envelope, as well as mechanical and electrical, Zach Snethen, HTK project manager, said.

The committee is working on a recommendation to take to the board, and the board will have the final vote on whether to move forward on a bond issue.

As part of the paring down process, the committee is looking at proposed improvements at each building, projected enrollment numbers and an alternative location for Early Childhood Connections programs.

The ECC program "can be a self-standing unit," Mark Hauptman, superintendent for special services, said.

The program, which serves infants to 5-year-olds, uses eight classrooms in the district, along with administrative space, Snethen said.

"Most of your demand on your space within the last 10 years isn't because of growth," Chuck Smith, HTK vice president, said. "It's because of curriculum and program needs."

A special education class of three might take the classroom space that formerly held as many as 25 students.

Briseno suggested the committee "go back and look at the basics -- classrooms," and consider a bond addressing those issues.

If athletic facilities are truly needed, then look at another bond, he said.

"A lot of times that's what kills the bond -- turf, athletic facilities," Interim Superintendent Dean Katt said.

"I think we have plenty of time to look at some of these items and find the efficiencies and best use of our facilities," Briseno said.

"I agree with Paul. We're not in any false timeline," Bryce Young, committee co-chair, said.

HTK representatives will break down costs for the proposed improvements in each building before the next meeting.

The committee then expects to begin discussion of what's needed, what can be delayed or pared down.

No date has been set for the next meeting.