DANVILLE — The Danville school district is looking at spending close to $2 million during the new fiscal year to address some of its aging buildings.
But the list of big-ticket items — and $1.975 million price tag — could change by the end of September when the school board adopts a budget.
Last week, board members reviewed the current list of buildings and grounds “assigned projects” before voting to put the preliminary budget on display. (At the time, the proposal called for bringing in about $75.9 million in revenue and spending about $80.1 million between now and June 30, 2020, although Business and Finance Director Heather Smith cautioned that those figures are likely to change.)
Board members also mentioned several other projects to expand and modernize facilities that they would like done, which may or may not end up in the budget depending on whether there’s a funding mechanism and public support.
“We’re going to approve a budget in a month or so, so now is the time to give us feedback,” board President Bill Dobbles, adding projects that aren’t financially feasible this year could end up in the district’s long-term strategic plan.
Topping the current “to do” list: A new HVAC system for Mellen Natatorium at Danville High School.
Estimated price tag: $650,000.
Long before launching the two extensive projects that closed the school over the summer, Skip Truex and his maintenance staff spent months planning how to carry out and complete them.
Buildings and Grounds Director Skip Truex said the current system was installed when the facility was built in 1991.
“It’s exceeded its life span,” he said, adding that the system, which operates 24/7 year-round, was designed to last 20 years. “We’re keeping air moving. ... But since I’ve been with the district, the dehumidifying/air conditioning system has rarely worked.”
Plans call for putting the project out for bid this winter and starting the work at the end of the school year, with most of the work being done over the summer.
“I hope it will be online in September ... or worst-case scenario, in October,” Truex said.
Other projects on the list include:
— Expanding the parking lot at the Fields Administrative Center, estimated at $150,000. (Anticipated bid approval: December).
— Replacing the roof over Edison Elementary’s gym, estimated at $275,000. (January 2020).
— Completing the roof replacement on Danville High’s 1972 addition (north end), estimated at $200,000. (January 2020).
— Repairing and painting the high school gym ceiling and walls, which is peeling in many places, estimated at $300,000. (January 2020).
— Doing stone and tuck-pointing at the DHS clock tower building and fieldhouse, estimated at $250,000. (February 2020).
— Repairing water lines at the high school that weren’t replaced during this summer’s restroom remodel, estimated at $75,000. (February 2020).
— Tuckpointing areas of Meade Park Elementary, estimated at $75,000. (February 2020).
While not included, Truex also noted that the boilers and chiller at Southwest Elementary must be replaced — possibly in 2021. That project could cost another $600,000.
“We think of it as our new school ... but it’s 20 years old,” he said. “In the last three years, we’ve had to repair the boilers several times.”
'Ugly yellow' bleachers
Also not on the list were some building additions and remodels that have been discussed previously, all of which come with significant work and costs.
— A project, estimated around $3.5 million, to completely gut and remodel four science rooms, two physics labs, a couple of other classrooms and the library/media center at the high school, all in the 1972 addition.
“I don’t think that’s part of a wish list,” Dobbles said. “I think those are very necessary for our students.”
— A project to add two restrooms for sixth-grade students (one boys, one girls), a gymnasium with a stage and possibly two classrooms onto the southeast side of Northeast Elementary.
The K-6 school’s cafeteria doubles as the gym, and two sixth-grade classes were added when pre-K through eighth-grade classrooms were restructured throughout the district a couple of years ago.
— Building four new classrooms on the southeast side of the Kenneth D. Bailey Academy, so that middle-school and high-school students could learn in separate areas.
— Remodeling part of the high school to serve as a guidance counselor’s suite, where students who receive counseling could do so in a more private setting.
— Replacing HVAC systems at Northeast.
— Board member Lon Henderson said the high school fieldhouse’s floor is cracked, is a safety hazard and needs to be replaced. He would also like to see the “ugly yellow” bleachers replaced.
Time to prioritize
While board members and others will continue to discuss the work as they hammer out the budget, Dobbles said other projects could come up as district stakeholders update the long-term strategic plan. Smith also pointed out that the district must update its 10-year health life safety plan soon.
“There are going to be items ... that we’ll have to do,” she said.
Truex already has preliminary plans, drawings and budgets for the other building needs, including the building additions and remodeling work. While he and Smith can provide guidance, it will be up to the board to prioritize the work and funding.
Board member Randall Ashton said the district may want to consider issuing bonds to fund some of the work.
Smith said the district has 13 more years to pay off its current bond debt. She planned to talk to the financial consultants about how much more the district could borrow, stretching the restructured payments out to 20 years, without increasing taxes.
Dobbles is also interested to see whether the Danville Public School Foundation would be willing to help with the science lab project.