School board approves funding for South Middle School, transferring some programs from Canyon Lake Elementary | Local
Without any discussion on Tuesday, the Rapid City Area Schools Board of Education unanimously approved two items related to funding options for the construction of a new South High School and the transfer of some students and programs from Canyon Lake Elementary School to other facilities in the district.
Tuesday’s board action came after a study session last Wednesday found that construction bids for the new college were much higher than expected and the district was looking for creative and cost-effective solutions. for multiple issues with Canyon Lake Elementary’s infrastructure.
According to the funding resolution, the bid for the construction of a new South Middle School was “significantly higher than expected” due to the “extremely high rate of inflation experienced over the past 12 months”.
The school district plans to use nearly $47.8 million in Elementary-Secondary School Emergency Funding (ESSER) to build the replacement school. However, the build bid came in at over $61.4 million. Other costs including design/construction administration costs, asbestos removal from existing school building, fixtures, furnishings, equipment, a new sports facility on the east side of campus, soil and concrete testing, permits, utilities, other fees and construction contingencies increased the estimated cost to $68.5 million.
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This estimated cost is $20.7 million higher than the budgeted ESSER funding, causing the school district to seek additional funding options.
“A thorough conversation has taken place with the administration, the Board of Education’s Facilities Committee, and the entire Board of Education regarding this situation,” the resolution reads. “From a financial perspective, the discussion focused on structuring a financial package for the part of the costs that would fall outside of the ESSER budget and that would be most beneficial to the district.”
Proposed financing options include using up to $5 million from the school district’s cash reserve fund and then seeking $15 million from an outside finance company. The school district would issue a certificate to secure funding based on its planned state aid funding, the resolution says.
RCAS facilities manager Kumar Veluswamy wrote a memo to the Board of Education saying the district would also work with the construction contractor to cut costs to keep the construction project below budget estimates. Veluswamy said using “valuable engineering items” could reduce costs by about $1.5 million.
“These value engineering items will be formally issued as a request for proposal to the contractor and a change order will be presented to the CAAN Board of Education to reduce the contract amount,” Veluswamy wrote. “This process will ensure that we award the contract before the 30 day deadline and there will be no gray area for all parties involved in the value engineering process.”
The new South Middle School will comprise 135,000 square feet with a capacity of 800 students. The new building will be located north of the existing school on the same site and will be connected to the existing community center. Construction will begin while the old school is still in operation. Once the new building is completed, students and staff will move into the facility and the old building will be demolished.
Plans call for the new building to have the capacity to increase student capacity in the future by adding a third level to the classroom wings.
The main building at Canyon Lake Elementary School was built in 1949 and an addition was made in 1951. The main building has experienced many infrastructure problems due to the age of the building.
The Canyon Lake site also includes four annexes – the district term for modular buildings that function as free-standing classrooms – that have been in use since the 1980s. A quarter mile from the main building is the Kibben-Kuster Building, which was built in 1981. The school district now calls this building Canyon Lake East.
Canyon Lake’s main building had previously been identified for closure due to a variety of factors including high water tables causing indoor air quality issues and structural issues, mechanical system issues, capacity upgrades needed electricity and a poor educational match, the district said.
The building’s HVAC system is over 45 years old and causing problems daily, the district said. The school board on Tuesday approved an emergency declaration to move special education and kindergarten students to Horace Mann Elementary School, the Food Services Administration to the Lincoln Building and the Lakota Immersion Program at General Beadle Elementary School.
The move will be effective from the start of the 2022-2023 school year.
By moving programs to other school sites, the school district will be able to repair portions of the HVAC systems in the common gymnasium/cafeteria area, computer server room, four classrooms, and two restrooms. The estimated cost would be between $250,000 and $280,000.
“This option allows us to keep all current Canyon Lake Elementary students and staff on the same campus,” the emergency declaration reads. “However, due to the current growth and changing population within our school boundaries, we will need to reassess school attendance limits for all schools in the near future.”
Contact Nathan Thompson at [email protected]