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 CAB Board May Hire Architectural Company

July 22, 2009 - The Charles A. Beard School Board was expected to vote last night on hiring an architectural firm to work with the school corporation as it plans improvements for Knightstown Intermediate School and new athletic facilities at Knightstown High School.

Over the past two weeks, the school board has heard presentations from two Indianapolis firms interested in working with CAB on these capital improvement projects. Fanning-Howey Associates addressed the board during a special meeting on July 7, while Schmidt Associates gave their presentation during another special meeting one week later.

In a memo sent to board members last week, Superintendent Gary Storie said that both he and Mike McKillip, CAB's facilities director, "have confidence in both firms and feel we could work with either of them well." Storie and McKillip had conducted their own interviews with half a dozen firms before recommending that Fanning-Howey and Schmidt Associates be brought in to make presentations to the board.

Storie expressed his hope that the board will form "a strong consensus" around one of the firms. "An architect is going to be extremely helpful to the board as you continue with your strategic planning and developing better definition about the scope of the project that is underway," he said in the memo.

Last month, a sharply divided board voted 4-3 to spend $1.1 million of an estimated $2 million, which CAB will get through refinancing debt on KHS, to make improvements at KIS. Proposed work at the school includes replacement of hot water piping ($175,000), heating and cooling work ($450,000), new kitchen equipment ($100,000), parking lot resurfacing ($150,000), electrical work ($100,000), and other unspecified improvements ($100,000).

The remaining funds would be used to build new athletic facilities at KHS. Possible projects include a new softball field ($135,000), track/soccer field ($400,000), concession stand ($110,000), and other sports facilites (as funds become available).

According to Storie's memo to the board, CAB's refinancing efforts, which involved issuing new bonds -- a process called "refunding" -- actually raised more than the $2 million that will pay for the projects at KIS and KHS. Storie said these excess funds will be applied toward reducing CAB's debt service payments by about $26,000 a year starting in 2011.

Approximately $1.265 million of the funds CAB will be using had been held in a sinking fund since an initial bond issue in 2001. While the refunding process allowed CAB access to this money, the remaining funds were generated by a decision to extend the repayment period on the new bonds an additional two years, to 2024.

The three board members who voted against spending the $1.1 million on KIS -- Steve Dalton, Mark Fort and Tim Wehr -- think spending that much money is unwise at this time. Instead, they think expenditures of that size should wait until after a decision has been made about which, if any, CAB schools might be closed after this year.

In April, Storie had recommended the board consider closing Kennard Elementary, a proposal that drew strong, public opposition. At the end of that month, board members said all CAB schools would remain open for the 2009-2010 school year, and that all options would be studied before any closure decision is made.

By making such a huge investment in KIS, Dalton, Fort and Wehr feel other board members have, effectively, decided KIS will not be studied as a possible closure option, breaking their word to the public in the process. Disagreement over this issue spilled over into the board's reorganizational efforts two weeks ago, when the three voted against the unopposed nominations of Kevin Knott and Wade Beatty for board president and vice president, respectively. Knott and Beatty took the offices by 4-3 votes.


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