•by Alan McArthur
At a special meeting of the Platte County R-3 School Board on Monday night, Dr. Mark Harpst, superintendent, proposed a preliminary outline for future development in the district over the next four to six years costing approximately $10 million.
The proposal--which consists of four parts to grow the capacity of the district’s schools and relocate the central office to a new building--could be on the ballot as a no-tax increase bond issue as early as April 2008, Harpst said.
The current available bonding capacity for the school district is estimated to be between $10 and $11 million.
Under the proposal, the first part calls for the addition of between four and six classrooms at Paxton School.
A second portion is to add a vocal music addition to the Platte County High School.
The third part calls for renovations to be made at the Barry School to redesign a portion of the inside, expanding the open space and reducing the number of classrooms by three.
The last part details the renovation and redesign of the Stiles Building at 998 Platte Falls Road near the Platte City campus.
“This is our best shot at this moment for what we need to do,” said Harpst. “It is not a perfect plan, but sometimes you have to deal with the cards you’re dealt.”
There are two different ideas for the expansion at Paxton; one idea is to add four classrooms as a two-story addition to the building costing an estimated $875,000. The second idea is to put six classrooms all on the first level of the building, with an additional cost of $600,000 over the previous cost. Four classrooms will add space for 100 students, six for 150, relieving the maximum capacity for another four to six years.
The cost for a new vocal music room addition with 3,955 square feet is estimated to be around $890,000.
The Barry School remodel is estimated at $2.48 million. This would provide a redesign to part of the building with the largest cost coming from a heavy remodel of 21,940 square feet at $1.7 million.
The final project is to redevelop the Stiles building for more than $1.2 million. This price does not include the cost to purchase the building for $2.4 million. The redesign would provide a place for a bus barn and district warehouse on one side, and district offices and a new early childhood center on the front.
If the district offices were to move to the Stiles building, the old office building could house the gifted program, ELL program, or START program.
“I’ve looked over these costs and some are estimated a little high, but I think others are a little low,” said Harpst.
The largest total expense comes with the purchase and redesign of the Stiles building for a total of $3.6 million.
“The Stiles building was not built for this, but I’ve gotten cost projections to build something similar and it’s not even close to the price,” said Harpst.
One concern brought up by the board was the close proximity of buses to the early childhood center and possible emissions problems.
“It is my understanding that there are air quality standards we would have to meet with the bus barn,” said Patricia Stinnett, board member.
“We will need to check with the architects to make sure they have thought about the air quality standards,” said Dick Modin, board member.
Mike Reik, assistant superintendent, told the board he had visited several other districts to see how they handle bus maintenance.
“Most school districts pipe the emissions directly outside the building,” said Reik.
“I checked around about this, and the fire department has a sock they put over the exhaust that goes straight outside,” said Karen Wagoner, board member.
Harpst mentioned that the expansion at Paxton could then be connected to the current high school in the future, after another elementary school was built. The expansion would then allow the high school to not reach capacity for another six to eight years.
“Something to consider is that in the future, a new high school might be needed,” said Harpst. “If you were to build a new high school today, it would cost around $60 million.”
The estimated cost to build another elementary school is between $13 and $15 million for a student capacity of 500.
The current bonding capacity for the school district is estimated to be between $10 and $11 million for April 2008. If the board decides to wait until 2009 the capacity increases to $15 million and in 2010 to $22 million.
The board of education will consider the proposal and is expected to make a decision at its next meeting set for Thursday, Aug. 23.