UNcommon Sense: Bond Update

by Corey Holland - Superintendent of Marlow Public Schools

It has been a few months since I have written about the 2022 Bond Project so I wanted to give an update. The bond project is set in three phases. Phase 1 includes the Middle School/High School Saferooms and the Wrestling Facility. Phase 2 includes the High School classrooms and the Performing Arts Center. Phase 3 includes the Fieldhouse and football stadium concession and restrooms. The 2022 bond and FEMA revenue gave us a budget of $25.3 million to complete all the projects.

As I have shared before, the bond budget revenue is $1.8 million less than originally estimated during the bond proposal. This reduction is due to the historic increase in interest rates. With the added challenge of large-scale increases in construction costs due to the COVID economy, our budget has also been negatively impacted by over $2 million dollars. Due to this reality, we immediately began to make adjustments to our overall plan with the primary intent on cutting costs, yet delivering on the overall goals of the 2022 bond project. A few examples of adjustments made to reduce costs are: shortened the height of both Saferooms, removed the glass vestibule entry ways of both Saferooms, adjusted interior walls of the wrestling facility, canceled design to connect the new High School classroom building to the current High School, and altered dimensions of the Performing Arts Center. The changes did not reduce the original bond project goals but have helped us save over $2 million.

As of today, we now have a clearer picture of our financial position. Phase 1 is nearly completed and will total $8.3 million. Phase 2 has just begun and has a budget of $14.7 million. This means we will have around $2.2 million remaining to complete the Fieldhouse and concession/restrooms at Outlaw Stadium. The projected cost to build the Fieldhouse with concession/restrooms included is $3.3 million. Obviously, this is well over our anticipated remaining fund balance. Our options to finish the projects as proposed are limited and none are ideal. By moving forward focusing on building just the fieldhouse the cost would drop to roughly $2.3 million. We could then utilize district building funds for the $100,000 we would be short. From there, we must figure out how to provide more restrooms and concession space.

One possibility is to repurpose, rather than tear down as originally planned, the existing fieldhouse. Doing so would reduce the size of the building we would need for bathrooms on the home side of the stadium. This is important because it would be cheaper and still allow us to meet the code requirements on total bathrooms available which comes with new construction. We could also repurpose the interior of the current concession buildings to provide more workspace. These are examples of potential solutions being considered to meet the bond objective of improving our restroom and concession facilities at Outlaw Stadium. Ultimately, available revenue and projected costs will determine how we proceed.

I know there are varying opinions on how best to complete the bond project. I am committed to meeting all the original goals, even in the face of reduced revenue. To date, we have protected spaces which directly impact students and done so without reducing quality or usability. While the final date of completion for all projects is still over a year away, I am encouraged by the reality the finish line for our plans to complete the project will soon be in sight.

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