District Putting Bond Issue On April Ballot

The Bourbon School Board voted January 27 to place a no tax increase bond issue on the April 7 ballot, the first since 2014.

School board members met with Chris Jerden of Facility Solutions Group and Mark Reuther from Hoener Architects to present their final questions before making the decision.

Members met with Jerden and Reuther for a little more than an hour and reached a final verdict.

Bourbon will have around $2.3 million in bonding capacity.

The priorities for the bond issue will be constructing a safety vestibule at the elementary school, building improvements and the construction of an agriculture, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and education building.

Safety Vestibule

The elementary school is currently the only part of either campus that does not have a vestibule upon entering the building.

Adding this vestibule to the high school was achieved in the district’s 2014 bond issue.

Building Improvements

Both campuses have serious repairs that need to be made.

From HVAC, to the BHS cafeteria roof, asbestos tiling in the seventh and eighth grade wing, plumbing issues in the elementary and electrical issues throughout the middle school, Bourbon’s list of improvements is lengthy.

Jerden said that aging splitter HVAC systems are the biggest need and said they should be addressed in this ballot issue. 

He urged the board to consider doing the total HVAC project in phases.

Some of the systems have just five years left on their median life expectancy. 

“They could last 15 more years by chance,” Jerden said. “On average, you can expect issues at the 15-year mark.”

Superintendent Dr. Kyle Gibbs said it could be challenging to continuously put HVAC replacement into the budget, but that the district has to be more proactive instead of reactive.

New Building

The district has its sights set on constructing a building for agriculture, STEM and education. It would be around 8,000 square feet and current estimates peg the cost around $1.4 million.

Board members balked that at price during the January 16 meeting. Board vice president John Craig said he has talked to local contractors who believe the building can be done for around $500,000 to $600,000. 

Reuther argued that right now, they don’t know what’s in the ground and can’t provide an exact estimate until they have started going through the process.

Reuther provided examples of similar buildings Hoener has designed — one in Wentzville and one in Lesterville.

The building in Wentzville was 13,500 square feet, cost $2.6 million and was $194 per square foot. Ten bidders came in on the project and the second-lowest bid was $13,000 more with alternates.

In Lesterville, a 3,800 square foot building cost $620,000 and $163 per square foot. That was done without any site work.

Discussion ensued on how the building would be used for more than just agriculture classes.

Previous issues of the Independent News described it as an agriculture building, but board members said that’s not its sole purpose.

Board member Jason Gobin emphasized the importance of STEM.

“We are going to get a STEM program,” Gobin said. “It needs to be done. Every school has it and we need it, too.”

Sullivan Independent News

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