Leader Blues

Monday, June 29, 2009

TOP STORY >> Lonoke to build $10M high school

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

The Lonoke School Board hired an architect and its usual construction manager Tuesday night in preparation for building an entirely new high school for as much as $10 million.

State and federal funds would help pay for the project.

The board hired Lewis Architects of Little Rock and Marvin Delk Jr. to oversee the process.He served as construction manager for the new Lonoke Middle School and the field house.

The new high school will include 19 classrooms plus three science labs, art room, band room, choir room and four workforce development program rooms as well as administrative spaces for the principal, counselor and health center, according to Superintendent John Tackett.

The Lewis presentation, by Steve Elliot and Clayton Vayden, showed both a one-floor and a two-floor layout, with both attached to the existing front facade of the high school.

Board member Mike Linton questioned whether or not it would be cheaper to preserve the front part of the existing school or to raze it with the rest and start from scratch.
Elliot said it would probably be a little cheaper to build all new, but that some communities are attached to their landmarks.

“It has a lot of historical value so alumni can drive by and reminisce,” Tackett said Tuesday.

The new Lonoke High School, with 61,598 square feet of educational space eligible for state match, could be as cheap as $8.5 million, but the district has as much as $10.2 million available for the project.

The funding includes $4.1 million from the recently sold second-lien bonds, $4.9 million match from state partnership funding and $1.3 million from stimulus money.
Delk said he believed the entire project could be built for $105 per square foot or less.

By comparison, the new high school at Maumelle in the Pulaski County Special School District is budgeted at about $50 million, an estimated $120 a square foot.

In other business, the board agreed to pursue a relationship with the Metropolitan Career-Technical Education Center and to contract with Sub Teach USA to provide substitute teachers next year, including training, record keeping, notifying, all for $3,762.

Tackett told the board that the Army Junior ROTC program is considering the district’s application for a program. He said the application included letters of support from members of the Arkansas Congressional delegation.