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Fairmeadows Renovation Project Update

The following is an update on the Fairmeadows Elementary renovation project. This includes the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education approving a design plan for the parking lot in January and the district seeking bids for the project in March. In addition, the School Board will review financial projections for district’s construction projects and it will review the Fairmeadows bids at a special meeting on March 24.

 

The Fairmeadows renovation project includes:

  • renovating school’s parking lot,
  • adding two classrooms on the east side of the building,
  • adding a new music room,
  • enlarging a classroom for kindergarten, and
  • updating mechanical and electrical systems.

 

The district hired SVPA Architects, Inc. to design the project.  Renovation work is currently scheduled for take place during the summer of 2014. The construction budget for the project is $2.3 million. All construction projects are paid for with sales tax funds, which cannot be used for general fund expenses such teacher and staff salaries and other expenses associated with educational programming.

 

This winter, district administration met with school neighbors about plans to redesign the parking lot and add a second driveway. Initially, the district planned to add a driveway, connecting the parking lot to Prospect Avenue just south of the school to help ease traffic flow.  After several meetings and input from neighbors, the district sought a traffic study from the city of West Des Moines and brought forth several alternate plans.

 

In January, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education approved an alternate parking lot plan that adds a limited-access gated driveway connecting the bus loop east of the building to the parking lot. It also features additional parking stalls and other modifications for improved traffic flow. The city of West Des Moines is currently reviewing the full site design, including the parking lot.

 

The district received bids – or prices – from construction contractors for the work on the Fairmeadows project on March 4. The lowest bid price for the basic project came from Rochon Corporation for $2.09 million. Alternates—or additional items such as classroom replacement carpeting, classroom painting, and other items – were also bid. The total project bid price was $2.39 million. The bid contracts are valid through April 18.

 

On Monday, March 10, the West Des Moines Community School Board of Education voted 4-3 to defer approving the contracts for the Fairmeadows Elementary renovation project until March 24, when the School Board will receive an update on sales tax funding available for the district’s construction projects.

 

The Superintendent’s Facilities & Finance Advisory Committee recently received projections prepared by the district’s financial advisor showing the district may need to issue an additional $40 million in sales tax bonds, for a total of $60 million, in order to complete the renovation projects as they are defined in the district’s 10-year facilities plan. The facilities plan outlines major building renovations, roofing projects, heating and cooling projects, and other facility updates district-wide through 2021.

 

Projections indicate the district would need to use up to 78 percent of its annual sales tax revenues to pay the annual principal and interest on $60 million in sales tax bonds. This could significantly reduce the amount available in the future to pay for technology and buses.

 

A representative from the school district’s financial advisor will provide a report to the School Board at a public meeting on Monday, March 24 at 5:15 p.m. at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines.

 

The Fairmeadows bids are also scheduled to be on the March 24 meeting agenda for Board action.

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