23 Sep Jon Cartu Review: Board Approves $10.6 Million For New PG Junior High
PRAIRIE GROVE — It will cost Prairie Grove School District just over $10.6 million to build a new junior high school to house seventh and eighth graders.
Prairie Grove School Board approved a guaranteed maximum price amendment of $10,645,000 for construction costs at its meeting last week. Pick-it Construction of Fayetteville is the construction manager for the project.
The guaranteed maximum price does not include architecture and engineering fees, according to Craig Boone with Architecture Plus Inc., architect for the project.
Boone last week said the construction price was “dead on target” for today’s market. Prairie Grove’s maximum price was $192 per square foot. Boone said another recent project came in at $190 per square foot.
“It’s a very tight market right now,” Boone said.
Nathan Ogden with Pick-it made the same comment, that the costs were on “target for the market.” Ogden said some costs came in higher than expected and others were lower.
Ogden said he was glad the new school does not have a lot of lumber because “lumber is crazy right now.”
Other costs not included will be technology and furniture, according to David Kellogg, assistant superintendent of transportation, maintenance and facilities.
Doug Bryant with Pick-it Construction told board members the company would continue to look for ways to save money. He said he already is talking to subcontractors about cost savings.
“It’s a benefit to both of us (to save money),” said Bryant, who attended the Sept. 15 meeting virtually, along with Bill Earwood of Pick-it.
Earwood said bids submitted for the project are good for 45 days. No one has been given a contract yet, Earwood said.
The new 52,000-square-foot junior high building will be on land off Bush Street across from the high school. The project includes extending Viney Grove Road in front of the new school. A 1.4-acre detention pond on the west side of the property will provide storm drainage for the development.
The school will have 23 classrooms (for classes and other uses), office space, a gym, library and dining cafeteria with a stage.
Ogden did not have a date for when construction would start. He said the company has an 18-month contract to finish the project.
In other action, the School Board approved the 2020-21 school budget, which shows a beginning balance of $1.5 million brought forward from the 2019-20 school year.
Prairie Grove is projecting to receive $17,432,817 in revenue with $17,397,616 in expenditures.
Reba Holmes, superintendent of schools, told board members the administration office used a “potential worse case scenario,” due to the covid-19 pandemic, in planning this year’s budget.
The district lowered all revenue projections and increased expenditures, Holmes said.
“We went up on what we thought expenditures would be because this truly is a crazy year,” Holmes said.
Projected revenues include $6 million from property taxes, almost $10 million from the state through State Foundation Aid, $968,000 from state designated funding and $312,741 from other sources.
Budgeted expenditures for the year are $8.1 million for the teacher’s salary fund, $7.5 million for the operating fund and $1.7 million for debt service.
In other news, Holmes provided board members with a document showing back-to-school enrollment patterns from 2016-2020.
The elementary school, for example, has increased student enrollment from 701 students (K-4) in 2016 to 782 this year. High school enrollment has increased from 580 in 2016 to 621 in 2020.
District-wide, enrollment was 1,897 in 2016 and stands at 2,042 for 2020-21. Holmes said the district is up by 23 students so far, compared to last year, not including pre-kindergarten students.
She said 74% of the students are attending school on-site and 26% are attending school virtually.
During the curriculum report, Pete Joenks, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said the district is at the point where schools are looking for students who have not shown up to find out where those kids are.
Each school has an outreach committee and is knocking on doors, sending out emails and calling to check on these students, Joenks said.
Holmes said the district only had six children unaccounted for but noted counselors had worked hard to bring that number down.
Joenks said principals also have been asked to find students attending virtual school who are not progressing as they should.
“We want to make sure they don’t fall through the cracks,” Joenks said. “We don’t want kids to get behind.”
Joenks said Prairie Grove continues to have new students enroll in Prairie Grove schools for one reason or another.
The board approved its monthly consent agenda. It hired Hunter Pierce as a network administrator and approved moving Lisa Spence into the ALE teacher position.
For student transfers, the board approved six transfers into the district and six transfers out of the district.