Plans are underway and a building project is being set into motion.
The Clay Community School Board of Trustees voted 6-1 (board member Forrest Buell opposed) in approval of the security projects at North Clay Middle School, Northview High School and Clay City Jr./Sr. High School. The vote remained the same for the approval of the schematic design, which now allows the architects to move onto the design development stage of the elementary building school project.
Kyle Miller, of Schmidt and Associates, came to the board asking for the approval to move into the design development stage, which would involve more detail being added to the project.
"We used Jackson Township (Elementary) as the model, and then tried to put together a formula to raise the other elementary schools to that level," Miller said
Since the preliminary numbers were first configured, which established a dollar amount for each school, Miller explained that Schmidt and Associates have met several times with Supt. Dan Schroeder, Building and Grounds Director Tom Reberger, Business Director Mike Fowler, and the Skillman Corporation, as well as having different meetings with each principal from each school and meetings with the administrative staff.
"We've had a lot of meetings with them to find out what their needs are keeping in mind that we are trying to raise them up to the level of Jackson," Miller said.
The numbers have changed for each of the buildings since the beginning of the project because the research that has gone on since then.
"One question that you are going to have is why have they changed so much," he said. "The answer is we know more now then we did then, it was a broad brush approach, it was on square footage."
One example used was Clay City Elementary, as it was implied that the mechanical systems would need upgraded, but it doesn't need to be because it was updated four years ago.
Other buildings, like Eastside, Meridian and Staunton have had some additional square footage to them and that is from talking to the principals and seeing what is needed.
Board members are asking for a more definitive reason as for the cuts that are made.
"As a board member I need more details to explain to taxpayers the changes in the numbers," Board member Tina Heffner said.
A two-page update summary will be provided to each board member to explain the changes from the beginning of the process to the meeting.
"The good news is we are in budget, and we can say that all the buildings will become as equitable as Jackson," Miller said. "We will be meeting with the principals some more. The numbers may shift a little bit but you won't see a big change."
"The bottom line is we are within budget," Reberger said. "We are always working from the bottom line and that is our can not exceed that number. We feel comfortable we will be below that number, then the will take anything left over to go back and reduce the bond issue. "
With concern of the economy, Miller was reassuring with the cost of the bids.
"As bad as the economy is, construction bids are coming in very low," he said. "We don't know where we are going to be in four or five months but we are expecting to get some very low bids."
Victor Landfair, representing of the Skillman Corporation, spoke to the board about the schedule for the building project.
In order to receive the best price for the overall project, there will be four bid packages based on cost and location:
* Package one is the security projects at the middle school and high schools,
* Package two is the Jackson Sewer Project because it will be a specialty project,
* Package three is the Staunton, Meridian and Eastside because they all have commonalities in additions, and
* Package four is the four remaining elementary schools because they are more scattered out and smaller in scale.
"Package two and three we would like to bid in July or August and package four a month later," Landfair said. "There is some strategy to this, which will allow us to get you the best price."
"This is just the approval for us to move on to the next part of the design," Landfair said. "The school is committed to nothing."
Bonds will not be sold until after the construction documents are completed, which will not be until the fall.
Board members had some discussion before beginning the vote for the approval of the schematic design.
"I have been for these projects all along, this is a public meeting and this information that we have came out a week ago," board member Ted Jackson said. "I have documents back to 2006 this is showing that we have changes from $70,000 to $1.4 million at different schools. It is just disappointing to know all the work that has gone into this and there is such a variance."
He also commented on needing to be aware of everything that is going on because of the public concern.
Board member Dottie King commented on the security of the schools and providing a classroom for the students.
"I have been on the project from the conducting, and we have looked at the education of the students," she said. "I am convinced that the most disenfranchised kids in the county are from those schools, and they are not of the same caliber of the other buildings. Those teachers go face-to-face with those kids.
She eluded to how other counties are closing schools, an alternative and middle school, but believes this shouldn't be done to the elementary schools in Clay County.
"Those teachers in small classrooms are making a difference," she said. "We were going to make a super school and I can't say let's close those town schools and put them in a big school and make it cheaper. We are going to make a difference in the lives of kids in this county, I think we did consider education when we decided to do this project."