Greenhouse plans move forward

Greenhouse plans move forward

MAHOMET – The new greenhouse for Mahomet-Seymour High School is a go – in concept at least.

School board members on Monday unanimously approved a Mahomet-Seymour Schools Foundation plan to raise money to build the greenhouse, but reserved the right to revisit that decision if bids come in substantially out of line with the $211,000 estimate.

Parent Shelley Porter, foundation treasurer, said that estimate is a "worst- case scenario" right now, adding that the foundation's not asking for final approval until all the numbers are firm.

But Porter said the foundation needs board approval so members can start fundraising and go out for bids.

The board also agreed to underwrite bidding costs and to pay annual operating costs of the free-standing structure, which will probably be at the northeast corner of the high school. Those costs could range from $14,000 to $19,000 depending on utility costs, said Superintendent Keith Oates.

"We hope that's not daunting when you think of the benefits," Porter said.

She said the foundation has set aside $76,000 for the project and hopes to raise another $75,000 in contributions, cost reductions and donated materials. In that case, the district would take out a loan for $60,000, and the foundation would cover the approximately $10,000 in debt service costs, Porter said.

She outlined two other scenarios that reduced the amount of savings and increased the amount of the loan and the debt service.

"We think we can comfortably cover $10,000 or even $15,000 in debt service, but no one is comfortable with the worst-case scenario," Porter said. "We want to do this plus continue funding grants to teachers.

"We ask board members to give us approval, to say we're agreeing to this and we like the project," she said. "The district will be building it, but we're behind it. We can't get started fundraising until we have something to tell people."

"We've never committed to a project before when we didn't have firm bids," Andy Busch said.

Porter said if bids come in significantly different from estimated, the foundation will come back to the board. "This is not a final decision point," she said.

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