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Board to consider increasing Prop P budget to $89.1 million


December 14, 2005 - A recommendation to increase the Proposition P districtwide building improvement program budget to more than $89.1 million is scheduled to be considered today — Dec. 15 — by the Mehlville Board of Education.

The Board of Education is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building, 3120 Lemay Ferry Road.

Stephen Keyser, the district's chief financial officer, told the Proposition P Oversight Committee last week that he planned to recommend that the Board of Education in-crease the Proposition P budget by $210,000. This would be the final Proposition P budget revision, he said.

If approved by the board, the revision would increase the Proposition P budget to $89,137,440 — a roughly 30.3 percent increase — more than $20.7 million — over the nearly $68.4 million building improvement program envisioned in 2000. District voters in November 2000 approved Proposition P, a nearly $68.4 million bond issue funded by a 49-cent tax-rate increase.

An open house marking the conclusion of the Proposition P districtwide building improvement program took place Dec. 6, the same day as the Oversight Committee meeting. Both events took place at the John Cary Early Childhood Center, 3155 Koch Road, one of the three new buildings constructed through Proposition P. Ber-nard Middle School and a new Oakville Elementary School also were constructed as part of the districtwide building program, which included improvements at every Mehlville school.

Though the district marked the conclusion of the Proposition P program, some roofing improvements will continue over the next few years so that all of the roofs on district buildings will not have to be re-placed at the same time in the future.

During the Oversight Committee meeting, Keyser outlined the details of his recommendation to increase the Proposition P budget by $210,000:

• Beasley Elementary — $14,000.

• Oakville Elementary — $20,400.

• Mehlville High School/Oakville High School — $21,000.

• Early Childhood Center — $23,100.

• Roof repairs/hazardous waste — $17,000.

• Construction management fees — $15,500.

• Furniture, fixtures and equipment — $240,400.

• Net of all other changes — $19,300.

While those items are proposed to in-crease in Keyser's budget recommendation, the cost of doors and windows would be reduced by $160,700, increasing the total budget by $210,000.

Referring to the breakdown of the proposed budget revision, Keyser said, "... Since the last revision, which was Novem-ber of '04, we've completed basically all of these projects, and, in essence, what we have is relatively minor changes in most of the areas with the exception of two areas — the doors and windows, where we're really under budget, and the furniture, fixtures and equipment, where we're over budget. And really it's the furniture, fixtures and equipment when it's all said and done that accounts for the variation or the budget revision of $210,000 ...''

At one point, Oversight Committee mem-ber Mike Levine asked about the remaining roofing work.

"Given the roof problems that we've had over the life of this project, have we built in enough contingency ...?'' Levine asked.

Dwight Dickinson of Dickinson Huss-man Architects said the district's roofing consultant, Jim Diehl of J&S Roof Tech-nologies Inc., had provided a good over-view of the projected cost of the remaining roof-replacement projects.

"... I think he definitely has got contingencies in there to make sure because part of the problem — and this is what we're running into right now in the industry and we've talked about it in other board meetings in the past year — is the material costs are so volatile right now in the industry, particularly petroleum-based material,'' Dickinson said. "And I think it's starting to level out now. We're not getting those spikes now like we were when roof insulation was just going — every month it was just increasing tremendously. But I think that sort of leveled out, but Jim tells us that he has placed as much money as he thinks (is needed) to cover that for the next three years and what he projects out. What's going to happen in the next three years? Who knows? Costs could even come down, I suppose, but the bottom line is the construction industry ... is just in a real flux right now as far as material costs. And it's not just petroleum products. We're talking about across the board.

"We've got a Gulf Coast down there that's desperate for any kind of building material they can get and that's great. But the problem is then the costs in the other parts of the country just go sky high and until that levels out and it starts to reach some kind of an equilibrium here, it's going to be real hard to go back to any school district, anybody for that matter, and say: 'We're going to tell you in three months that we're going to be able to build this building for this much money.' It's difficult. I'm not going to lie to you. It's tough,'' he said.

As of Dec. 5, the district had spent $71,627,604 of the Proposition P construction budget and $14,536,313 of the district capital fund revenue for a total of $86,163,917.

Planning for Proposition P began in late 1999 with the establishment of the Citi-zens' Advisory Committee for Facilities.

After nearly seven months' work involving the participation of 3,500 community members, the committee recommended placing a $70.2 million bond issue before voters. Board of Education members fine tuned the CACF's recommendation by trimming two items and voted to place Proposition P — a nearly $68.4 million bond issue funded by a 49-cent tax-rate increase on the November 2000 ballot.

The Board of Education adopted the first Proposition P budget of $72.4 million in October. 2001. In September 2003, the board approved a revised budget of $86,725,000. A revised Proposition P budget totaling $88,927,440 then was approved in November 2004.

On Aug. 15, 2000, then-board member Matthew Chellis voted against accepting the master facilities plan recommended by the CACF and against placing Proposition P on the ballot. He also cast the dissenting vote against the original Proposition P budget of $72.4 million adopted in October 2001.

At the Oct. 1, 2001, meeting, Chellis questioned then-Superintendent John Cary about what other estimated expenditures were not included in the $72.4 million budget.

"At this point, some general conditions, but that could be paid for in contingency if in fact we have some contingency left; furniture, depending on what we decide to do with furniture — that's kind of an un-known situation," Cary said.

Cary later told the Call that the "general conditions" include expenses with the arch-itect or engineer, documents, blueprints and other office expenses. He said a decision had not been made about what new furniture would be needed and which of the old furniture would still be used.

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