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USC has to trim $1.3 million

By Staff | May 19, 2013

Budgets can be difficult to juggle, especially when the end total is $28 million. When doling out that kind of cash, the hope is for an amazing product that everyone can enjoy. And that is just the intention of the United South Central School Board when making decisions about the new school building, set to be student-ready in the fall of 2014.

After the groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, May 15, the School Board met to discuss and approve some changes to the project in order to save money.

With the base bids that were accepted at previous meetings, the board was over budget by $755,446. They also were considering adding an alternate classroom at a cost of $622,692, leaving them $1,378,138 over budget.

The goal of the meeting was to work toward eliminating that $1.3 million to allow the project to be completed on budget.

Project manager Justin Webster with Kraus-Anderson Construction Company estimated the value of changes that could be made and presented those findings to the board.

“I want to stress that these are estimates,” says Webster.

Many of the items on the Value Management Log submitted to the board by Webster were debated at length before making a final decision.

A big ticket item discussed was the bus garage. While it is a convenience to have, the board agrees the interest of the students comes first.

Webster had suggested they shave off $250,000 of the $600,000 set aside for the garage.

But, the board agreed the classroom was more important than the bus garage, so they axed that as an option.

Skylights were another “luxury” item that may be aesthetically pleasing, but not necessary for the integrity of the building.

“There are two kinds of skylights: ones that leak and ones that will leak,” says Webster.

Meaning that the skylights will not last as long as the roof and will undoubtedly need replacing in the future.

The board agrees that a classroom such as the art room needs natural light, so not all of the skylights are being eliminated.

One item the board unanimously decided to keep is the propane tank farm that will be used for backup. The tanks will pay for themselves in just a few years.

Superintendent Dr. Jerry Jensen suggests moving the current lights at the tennis courts to the new location. This will be looked into as a possibility.

Item by item, the board found ways to save approximately $1 million. There will be more opportunities in the future to continue the process of equalizing the budget.

In other business;

The board offered the open board position to Dale Stevermer and he accepted. Chairperson Kathy Krebsbach swore him in;

A family care leave request was accepted by the board, effective May 16 through the end of the school year;

It was decided not to have the students make up the May 2 snow day, but to have a work day for the teachers on June 4; and

The motion was made and passed to accept the alternate classroom addition for the new school building project.