Boyle reviewing bids on $30 million middle school

Published 9:58 am Saturday, December 2, 2017

Boyle County Board of Education members had their first glimpse at the proposed costs of the new Boyle County Middle School on Thursday night.

“I think our job tonight is to give all of the information to the board,” said Superintendent Mike LaFavers, as he began the conversation about the new school cost.

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First talking about financing, Kelly Mersic, vice president of public finance at Hilliard Lyons, which is the fiscal agent selling the bonds on behalf of the district, shared that the district’s bonding potential is about $32 million, based on current rates.

“I think the important thing to cover is what you all can really afford. That’s your bonding potential,” Mersic said.

Over the last month, she said, there had been “quite a bit” of interest rate change, which she attributed to an increase in municipal volume.

“We’ve seen a lot of what would normally occur in December moved forward. Municipal volume in December usually ranges from 12 to 15 billion. We’ve seen it go up to 50 billion this month,” Mersic said.

That, she said, makes the rate go higher.

“Given that, it may make sense to push it back a little bit until after the first of the year. The first of the year, we tend to see rates go down,” she said.

Mersic said it is likely the bond sale wouldn’t be able to happen before January, even if the board wanted to do so, because the Kentucky Department of Education would likely need more time to review the BG-1, the paperwork that lays out how the district plans to pay for the new school.

David Morris, finance officer for the district, said the bonding potential would be coupled with estimated $1 million the district has generated after the passage of a nickel tax in 2015. That money can only be used on facilities in the district. Morris said those could be coupled with other “residual construction fund money” the district has of about $67,000. All together, that would give the district over $33 million, without touching the general fund.

LaFavers then moved the board into reviewing bids, which were accepted on Thursday. Normally, he said, they didn’t accept bids the same day as a board meeting, but the Thanksgiving holiday pushed the date back.

The board had put the project out to bid with seven alternates, or potential additions to the plan. Those include: courtyard work, improvements in the right-of-way, food service equipment, theatrical equipment and lighting, theater seating, a fly loft and a preferred HVAC system.

LaFavers explained that two of the alternates were taken care of, as the city has agreed to reimburse the costs of the right-of-way work and all the contractors agreed to do the preferred HVAC system at no additional cost. The courtyard work, he said, could be delayed until later, if necessary, something that Boyle County Middle School Principal Steve Karsner has agreed to.

The base bid for the project comes in at just under $30 million for five of the seven companies, while the remaining two offered bids of $31.39 million and $32.8. The lowest bid was D.W. Wilburn at $29 million and the second lowest was Branscum W Rogers with a bid of $29.39 million.

Besides the complete bid numbers, LaFavers also gave the board six options to look at, which combined the base bid and the remaining five alternates. Adding an additional 15 percent in “soft costs,” such as architects’ fees, bonding agent fees and a five percent contingency as required by law, the board looked at the following options, combined with the base bid: 

•  fly loft, theatrical equipment and lighting and theater seating, total cost of which ranges from $35.19 million to $35.6 million;

•  food service equipment and fly loft, total cost of which ranges from $34.9 million to $35.5 million;

•  fly loft, total cost of which ranges from $34.2 million to $34.8 million;

• food service equipment, theatrical equipment and lighting, theater seating and fly loft, total cost of which ranges from $35.9 million to $36.4 million;

•food service equipment, theatrical equipment and lighting and theater seating, total cost of which ranges from $34.9 million to $35.46 million; and

• theatrical equipment and lighting and theater seating, total cost of which ranges from $34.2 million to $34.75 million.

The fly loft — a piece of machinery used on a stage to move the backdrops up and down — has been heavily discussed among the board. 

“One of the first places to start is, ‘Do we want a fly loft in the theater,’” LaFavers said.

Assistant Superintendent David Young explained that the addition of a fly loft would allow for the school to bring in theatrical productions that can’t be shown anywhere else in the county, including the Norton’s Center. Certain shows, Young said, require a larger fly loft than what the Norton’s Center has.

“What a fly loft allows you to do is layer scenery so it can go up instead of having to be rolled out. It allows you to do more complex plays,” he said. While the purpose isn’t necessarily for the district’s productions, bringing in those performances could be a big benefit to students, Young said.

“I keep reminding myself, we’re making 50-year decisions, 60-year decisions. We don’t know how it might be used in the future,” he said.

Thomas said it wouldn’t be possible to add a fly loft later, because the type of building materials used has to change.

“It’s significant cost to build the infrastructure beneath the fly loft,” he said. “If you didn’t do the alternate, it’s a much less expensive structure that you couldn’t put a fly loft on. And if we built the building to house a fly loft that didn’t get built, it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars for nothing.”

Board member Julie Jones said even if they didn’t have the fly loft, they needed to complete other aspects of the theater, which are listed as alternates.

“With a theater, we didn’t just want to have the shell of something that we couldn’t use when the school was open,” said Jones. “Looking at the options that include finishing the theater, either with or without the fly loft, is an important thing for us.”

The remaining three alternates — theater electrical and lighting, theater seating and food service equipment — are all things that will need to be done, LaFavers said, but they don’t have to be included in the project, as long as the district makes arrangements to cover the costs before opening the new school.

“The kitchen equipment has to be paid for somewhere,” he said, pointing out that a school can’t open without kitchen equipment.

Thomas told the board there would be time to purchase the items before the school opens in 2019.

LaFavers and Thomas said they felt the numbers provided were pretty solid ones.

“These are the true numbers,” Thomas said.

The board tabled the discussion until next week. 

“I don’t think it would be responsible on our behalf to act too quickly,” said Board member Jesse Johnson. “This is not the only thing we want to do in 50 years, so we need to digest this.”

A special-called meeting will be held within the next week to select one of the bids.