Column: UNcommon Sense Bond Phase I
This past week, Phase 1 of our bond project was set fully in motion. Phase 1 is building the safe rooms at the Middle School and High School as well construction of the new wrestling practice facility. The ground preparation at the Middle School and the demolition of our beloved auditorium at the High School are the first of many things that will be occurring over the next few months. One of the most popular questions I have been getting of late is, “Can I get a brick”? The answer is yes. I have asked the demo crew to place some bricks on the outside (North-East corner) of the fenced off area. Community members are welcome to come and take a brick. I will ask everyone to limit themselves to just a few bricks per person. It is extremely important to not cross into the work area to try to retrieve items. The debris at the demo site is unstable and contains lots of sharp objects.
The overall bond project will be ongoing over the next two years. This next week I will be in meetings to plan and strategize Phase 2 of the project. Phase 2 is currently set to consist of construction of the auditorium, high school classroom additions, fieldhouse addition, and bathroom facilities/concession improvements at the football stadium. It is important to understand the state of our economy and the negative impact it is having on the bond projects. The interest rates are at historic highs and have cut into our available funding. From the time the bond proposition was written in December to the time we were able to lock in our interest rate in June, the rate had increased over 2%. While 2% sounds like a small amount, compound interest on a bond package of $34 million led to roughly $1.7 million in lost construction funds. The cost of labor and materials are also at historic highs. Additionally, many materials needed for construction are delayed which only lengthens our construction timeline and adds more cost. These realities have led to our Phase 1 project bids coming in $1 million over budget. This is not a unique situation to Marlow. Multiple other districts working on bond projects are facing the same challenges. I have spoken to several and all are having to reprioritize their project goals.
We will address our budget challenge by looking at every reasonable way to find savings. Scaling back, altering, or holding off on parts of the project are all options. Our commitment is to protect those things in the project which impacts student. If we are forced to choose between student use spaces or mainly adult use spaces, I believe we must prioritize student use spaces. Ultimately, our focus is to complete all the original goals of the bond project. That said, we must move forward responsibly. We cannot allow what we want to do cloud the decisions of what we can afford to do. The challenge ahead of us financially on these projects is big. Very big. There is most likely not going to be enough bond funds to complete all the projects to the original extent and finishes as first planned. It is not my intent to be doom and gloomy. Instead, I want to be upfront about the realities of our situation. I am confident there is a workable solution to be found and the end result will responsibly meet our needs. I also know we can count on many of you to help us in our efforts. We know Marlow Outlaws have never been ones to shy away from a challenge-- and we aren’t going to start now.
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