Education

Marion R-2 might ask voters to approve bond issue for school facilities

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 30, 2017 7:55 pm

PHILADELPHIA, Mo. -- The Marion County R-2 School District might ask voters to approve a bond issue for various facility improvements.

Superintendent Tony DeGrave said details about the proposed improvements -- and what they would cost -- are still in development.

The School Board this month hired a St. Louis consultant to review the district's facilities and prepare a list of needs and estimated costs.

Once the list is assembled and prioritized, the board will decide whether to put a bond issue before voters -- possibly during the April 3, 2018, municipal elections.

Grave said if any bond issue were approved, it would not require an increase in School District taxes because the proposed new bonds would simply replace existing bonds that are slated to expire in coming months.

DeGrave said one of the most significant needs facing the district is for a new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. The current HVAC system is about 20 years old and inefficient.

"Currently we have a ‘shared' system, with every two classrooms sharing one thermostat. It's not a good setup," he said. "Any HVAC system has a life cycle, and ours has probably reached that critical stage of replacement."

DeGrave also said the current HVAC system doesn't have the ability to ventilate fresh air into the district's school building, which serves prekindergarten through 12th grades.

"We think that's a necessity," he said.

Knowing that it needs to do something about the HVAC system, the district in October issued a request for proposals seeking help from construction management agencies. Then at its November meeting, the School Board selected GRP Mechanical Co. of St. Louis to lead the project.

DeGrave said GRP will review the district's facilities and develop a proposed improvement plan centered on the need for a new HVAC system. The plan will outline a series of improvements that can be carried out over a period of years in a sequence that makes sense.

"You don't want to spend a good amount of money replacing a ceiling and then five years later tear that ceiling out to replace an HVAC system," DeGrave said.

Likewise, any exterior improvements would be timed to avoid conflicts with an HVAC installation "because of the punctures you put into a wall to run refrigerant lines and that sort of thing," he said.

DeGrave said the board hopes to hear more details at its Dec. 13 meeting so decisions can be made about whether or not to put a bond issue on the April ballot.

"After our December board meeting, we need to be pretty solid on what our project ideas are and how we're going to move forward," he said. "We have to try to be as frugal with taxpayer dollars as we can and try to get the most bang for the buck."

DeGrave said the Philadelphia community will be kept involved and informed throughout the process.

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