Leader Blues

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

TOP STORY >> District's plan for facilites approved

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writer

In less time than it takes to tell, the Pulaski County Special School District School Board convened, approved a $97.2 million, 10-year facility-maintenance plan with an additional $11.6 million in capital improvements and adjourned.

Only four board members attended, but all — Ronnie Calva, Dr. James Bolden III, Carol Burgett and Mildred Tatum — voted to approve the plan.
The state-mandated Academic Facilities and Transportation Plan, which must be submitted to the state today, included $11.6 million in capital improvements between 2006 and 2009, with the new, $10.5 million Chenal Upper Elementary School in west Little Rock accounting for all but $1.1 million of that.

The state is expected to pay 18 percent of the cost of the capital improvements.

Schools in the Jacksonville and Sherwood areas are slated for $836,000 in capital improvements over those three years, nearly all of it in the form of roof improvements.

The bulk of the money in the plan was earmarked for regular maintenance and utilities for all the school buildings, directly tied to the number of square feet involved.

CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS

Those area schools identified for the improvements are:
2006-2007 school year
• Homer Adkins Elementary School, roof, $120,000
• Sylvan Hills Middle School, old band room/field house, roof, $20,000
• Oakbrooke Elementary School, main building, roof, $190,000
2007-2008 school year
• Homer Adkins Elementary School, asbestos abatement, $126,000
• Jacksonville Middle School girls campus, cafeteria and classroom buildings, roof, $100,000
2008-2009 school year
• Oakbrooke Elementary School kindergarten, roof, $130,000
The other capital expenditures over that three-year period are:
• Fuller Middle School gymnasium, roof, $15,000
• Scott Elementary School, roof, $140,000
• Oak Grove High School, roof, $75,000
• Mills High School, roof, $55,000.
The Chenal school will be built using proceeds from two debt restructurings approved by the voters in 2002 and 2004.

MAINTENANCE COSTS

The plan includes facilities maintenance and operations costs for the next 10 years at the rate of $9.7 million dollars a year, split evenly among the schools based upon the total number of square feet for all the buildings constituting each individual school.

Those maintenance and operations costs include annual utilities, custodial, maintenance, repair and renovation activities and related personnel costs. There are 37 schools in the district, made up of 191 buildings, according to the information provided by Jerry Holder and James Warren, superintendent for support services.

Act 1426 of 2005 requires every school district to create and submit the master plans, with phase I, (2006-2009) due today. The state requires the districts to dedicate at least 9 percent of the $5,400 per student annual minimum foundation aid for maintenance.

The district receives that money for each of approximately 18,000 students each year, for a total of $97.2 million per year. Nine percent of that would be $8.75 million a year earmarked for maintenance, but the district opted to spend 10 percent per year, or $9.72 million a year, Warren said.

Although the master plan maintenance funding is prorated on the basis of square feet per school, the actual amount spent will probably vary from the amount shown, according to the cover letter prepared by the Department of Plant Planning.

The district covers about 730 square miles, requiring greater time and expense for transportation and maintenance needs, the district told the state in describing the geographic features of the district.

HOUSING BOOM

Other information the district submitted to the state indicated that the district has a housing boom in Maumelle, Scott, Sherwood, Jack-sonville and western Little Rock. Jacksonville alone has more than 17 developments with more than 1,500 lots.

In 2005, more than 337 new houses were built in Maumelle, with 783 more housing units slated for completion by the end of 2006.
Scott grew by an estimated 50 new houses in 2005 with another 600 slated between now through 2009. Sherwood growth was characterized as above average.

More school-aged children could be coming to Little Rock Air Force Base, and two new distribution companies were said to be coming to Scott. Asked to identify unique facility needs, the district noted that all districts were required to hire elementary music and art teachers in 2005-2006, but that many elementary schools didn’t have classrooms equipped to accommodate music and art.