Board approves feasibility study on school facilities

After a lengthy discussion Monday night, Dec. 10, the Boone Central School Board decided to proceed with a feasibility study on school facilities and approved contracts for the work.
The study is to include facilities at both Albion and Petersburg, looking at all aspects of the facilities, including costs and educational and community impacts of using the campuses in both towns.
Board President Patti Meyer noted that issues developed last year with the steam heat system at the middle school, and discussion was held at that time on conducting a study of all facilities. She said she feels a cost-benefit analysis should be conducted.
The Boone Central Middle School has been located at Petersburg since the merger of Albion Public and Petersburg Public Schools in 2001.
The study will involve three firms that submitted formal proposals. Goss & Associates of Omaha and Denver will conduct the cost-benefit analysis at a cost not to exceed $13,700.
JEO Consulting Group of Lincoln, Norfolk and Grand Island will be in charge of community engagement for the feasibility study at a cost not to exceed $10,680.
Wilkins Architecture Design Planning will conduct the buildings analysis portion of the study at a cost not to exceed $5,000.
The board debated the overall project cost. Members Ed Knott and Justin Frey said they were concerned with the overall cost and did not fully understand the specifics of the Goss proposal.
“I’m not sure we’ll get all the answers we need from them,” said Knott.
Cost of the full study will be $29,380.
Board members agreed that they would like to have information to answer all questions, and a wide variety of information would be needed, including foremost the educational benefits.
Answers would be needed to questions about the cost of improving the Petersburg facility, the cost of bringing all grades into the Albion facility, savings of not transporting both students and teachers back and forth, economic impact on both communities, and others.
“The aim is getting an in-depth understanding before a decision is made,” said Superintendent Nicole Hardwick. “It’s a very complex decision we have to make.”
The superintendent said she would like to have an evaluation of all funding options heading into the future.
Board member Tim Stopak said he believes the study will provide more certainty on certain issues for the board moving forward. “The more information the better,” he said.
Board member Dr. Sean Kohl said he believes the study will be more credible coming from third party sources, even though the school district will provide the consultants with facts and statistics.
Meyer said the study would begin in January 2019, and would be completed over a two-to-three month period. Community members will be invited to participate, along with school personnel and board members.
School Calendar Updates
Superintendent Hardwick announced there will be several changes in the school calendar for next year.
The annual Boone Central Choral Clinic will be earlier than usual on Monday, Jan. 14.
Newly scheduled events are:
• Class C District Wrestling, Feb. 8 and 9 at Albion. High school students will have early dismissal Friday, Feb. 8, but elementary and middle school will attend the full day of classes;
• Class C1 District Speech on Wednesday, March 13. There will be no classes for elementary or high school students that day, but middle school will attend the full day.
• Middle School Speech Tournament Friday, March 15, at Petersburg. No classes that day for middle school, but elementary and high school will attend all day.

Read the complete story in the Dec. 12 Albion News & Petersburg Press, Print and E-Editions.