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Mike Kent of Premier Demolition Inc. in Cedar Hill keeps a spray of water on debris from the demolition of the old Bernard Elementary School on Forder Road. Kent said last week that the spray helps keep dust from mi-grating to neighboring homes from the demolition site. Bill Milligan photo (click for larger version)

Abatement adds to cost of razing school, but exact amount remains undetermined

Extensive asbestos abatement work has added to the total cost of razing Bernard Elementary School, but the exact amount is undetermined, according to information provided to this newspaper by the Mehlville School District.

Mehlville School District officials have not calculated a separate cost for the razing of Bernard Elementary School, according to a letter written by Assistant Superintendent of Finance Randy Charles in response to a request for information made by the Call under the provisions of the Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law, also called the Sunshine Law.

At a Board of Education meeting July 22, Superintendent Tim Ricker announced that asbestos abatement at the school on Forder Road was "more expensive" than district officials had anticipated during the preparation of demolition of the building.

But Ricker did not provide any cost figures to board members.

In response to a written request for information made by this newspaper July 15, Charles, who also serves as the district's chief financial officer, wrote, "Work related to the razing of Bernard Elementary School was included in the total scope of work specified for the general contract and was not priced separately.

"The cost of razing Bernard Elementary School has been included in the total cost of all work specified in the General Works package. Mehlville School District has not calculated a separate cost for this portion of the work,'' Charles wrote.

Mehlville School District voters in November 2000 approved Proposition P, a nearly $68.4 million bond issue funded by a 49-cent tax-rate increase.

However, the Board of Education last September adopted a revised budget for the Proposition P districtwide building program totaling more than $86.7 million.

Bernard, the district's fourth middle school, was the first Mehlville school to be built in more than 10 years and cost more than $13 million. Funding came from the Proposition P districtwide building program.

During the past school year, the former Bernard Elementary was filled with Oakville Elementary School pupils as a new Oakville Elementary was constructed.

The unanticipated extensive asbestos abatement disrupted the Bernard Elementary School's demolition schedule by 10 days, Ricker reported July 22.

The demolition of Bernard Elementary was scheduled to begin June 14, Charles stated in his July 27 response to this newspaper. The Call requested information regarding the razing of Bernard Elementary July 15.

Asbestos removal also was scheduled to begin June 14, according to Charles, and demolition of the actual building was scheduled July 12.

But Charles wrote, "Additional asbestos containing materials were uncovered during removal. Additional time is needed to remove these materials. Demolition of the structure is scheduled to begin during the morning of Aug. 2, 2004."

Actual building demolition did not begin until Aug. 5.

Also requested by this newspaper was information regarding the opening of Oakville Elementary School on Yaeger Road.

"The district anticipates receiving the occupancy permit on or about Aug. 23, 2004," Charles stated in his response, noting that the most recent projected cost of Oakville Elementary School construction is $5,782,665, which "includes an anticipated expenditure of $5,132,665 of funds generated by the issuance of certificates of participation and an anticipated expenditure of $650,000 of funds generated by the 49-cent levy beyond that which is needed to make principal and interest payments."

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