Concept drawing of what a new auditorium at HCHS could look like.  Courtesy CMBA Architects

$28.5 Million

District Facilities Committee recommends renovations, improvements at four attendance centers

    HARLAN – Renovation of the high school’s auditorium is one of the large-ticket cost items of an overall school district facilities upgrade plan being recommended by a district facilities study committee to the HCSD Board of Education for evaluation and review.
    Total cost of the improvements is estimated at $28.5 million to be paid for with bond proceeds recommended by the committee for a December 11, 2018 vote.
    The board heard a presentation last week from CMBA Architects, Sioux City, the firm charged with reviewing facilities and providing its findings to the committee, staff and board.  The board then held a workshop meeting last Friday that included the architects as well as a financial consultant and bond attorney.
    In addition to the bond issue, it’s being recommended that the board also proceed with district patron votes on the Dec. 11 ballot for extension of the district’s Instructional Support Levy (ISL) and Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL).
    The board currently is just evaluating all options and no decisions have been made on whether or not to proceed with any of the recommendations from the committee.

Bond proposal
    District renovations being recommended include $150,000 for primary school needs, $9 million for intermediate school needs, $350,000 for middle school needs and $19 million for high school projects.
    While the middle school and primary buildings are relatively newer, the high school and intermediate buildings date back 40-50 years.
    Recommended high school renovations include everything from an updated auditorium/art/music area and security upgrades to replacing electrical/data and HVAC systems, roofing and updated science/STEM areas. (see sidebar)
    Similar renovations are being proposed for the intermediate school, as officials said that building has great structure and has been maintained well but basically needs to be “gutted” on the inside with new plumbing, security, electrical, and major classroom updates.
    Recommended updates to the primary building are minor such as fixes to camera, security and card access and fixing moisture/mold near the music area.  At the middle school it’s suggested to modify and secure the main entry, update temperature controls and fix plumbing and gym floor issues, just to name a few.
    Over the past five months, architects have interviewed students and staff at all facilities, met with administration, done a structural walk-through of the buildings, reviewed mechanical/engineering, conducted a financial review of the district, made comparisons to similar districts and held five steering committee meetings.

    Harlan Community Schools Superintendent Justin Wagner said currently there is no funding available for the facility needs, meaning the district would have to secure additional funding as being recommended by the steering committee via a bond issue.
    The school board will have to decide quickly if it’s going to move forward should a December 11 bond issue vote be proposed.  Initial requirements will have to be completed in September and October.
    There are other options being considered, such as moving any votes back to a February, April or June, 2019 date.
    Potentially there could be four questions on a December 11 vote.

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