School repair costs on rise, staffer warns

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
Business Director William Lewis III presented the district’s 2021-22 financial report, and discussed points of interest for School Board members at their monthly meeting Thursday, April 14.
The district is in the process of expanding Seven Oak to allow for many of the city’s sixth-graders to move there next year. They were able to get some current costs recently for the construction project and came back realizing they’ll need more money to complete it, even after paring down their original plans.
Before COVID, original estimates for six classrooms and a CTE space with bathrooms were about $2.5 million. Today that same project would cost about $8 million, so the district removed the CTE room and brought the numbers down to about $6 million.
“We’re trying to do this as cheaply as possible in the current market conditions,” Lewis said.
The district has set aside $2.5 million from ESSER II funds and $1.5 million from ESSER III funds for the project based on projected costs from two years ago, and Lewis expects they’ll need another $2 million to $2.5 million from ESSER III.
Since current market costs for such a project run about $541 per square foot, the district also looked at the option of renting modular units.
“$541 a square foot, I can’t even comprehend that,” Lewis said. “A few years ago I would’ve laughed at anyone who said that’s what the cost of construction’s gonna be. We’re in a strange, unique environment now.”
Lewis also asked approval for an interfund loan. According to Lewis, the district transfers about $350,000 a year into the textbook adoption fund for larger textbook and curriculum purchases. He was recently approached with a request to purchase K-12 curriculum early for the teachers, but the textbook fund was short $111,000 to do so. As such, he would like to borrow money from the special revenue capital projects fund for the purchase.
“The whole goal is to have all of our curriculum in our teachers’ hands before they go for summer break,” he said.
In other business, the board:
♦ Heard an update on summer school and a counseling presentation;
♦ Approved the LHS Language Arts Adoption;
♦ Approved an amended certified calendar.