The Bond Passed...What Now?
Last week Melcher-Dallas community members voted to approve the General Obligation Bond to build a new gym and make other improvements to the JH/HS building. This is very exciting news for the community and our students! I have heard many questions about the project, so I thought I would do an FAQ article to answer some of them.
Question: Do we still get to use the insurance money?
Answer: Yes. The district will use insurance money and bond money for the project. The final amount the district will receive from insurance has not yet been determined. We hope to know the final amount in a few weeks. This district has already received 1.6 million dollars from insurance up to this point.
Question: When will the work on the project begin?
Answer: As I write this article, CMBA (the architectural firm hired for this project) and DCI (the construction management company hired for this project) are working together to determine the schedule. We would like to start the project as soon as possible, but there are some obstacles to work through first. One obstacle is the fact that the utilities that serve the JH/HS building run underneath the existing gym. Water, electrical and gas would have to be relocated before they can begin demolition. Relocating the utilities is not a quick job and we need water, gas and electricity to have school. If we can find a way to relocate the utilities without disrupting school, demolition can begin before the end of the school year. If not, demolition will not begin until school is out in the spring.
Question: What work has to be done in order to get the project up and running?
Answer: As I write this, the architectural team and engineers at CMBA are having their kickoff meeting for the project. They will begin drafting the official plans and designs for the building. This will take several weeks to complete. The next step will be for the project to go out to bid. Contractors will submit sealed bids to the district that are all due on a set date at a specific time. Once the contracts have been awarded the work can begin. Of course, during this time the bonds will also be sold to fund the project. There are many moving parts for a project this large that have to be coordinated and deadlines that have to be met. DCI will coordinate this on behalf of the district.
Question: When will the project be completed?
Answer: This will not be determined until we set the start date. However, the project will take 12 to 18 months to complete. If everything goes as scheduled and we can start demolition before the end of this school year, the project could be completed by January of 2023.
Question: Is there an indoor track in the plans?
Answer: No. The plans do not include an indoor track.
Question: Will the community have access to the fitness center?
Answer: The district plan is to provide access to parts of the facility to the public. The district has not yet worked out the logistics of the plan. The plan could include access to the fitness and weight equipment. It will likely not include open access to the gym.
Question: What is the district doing to support our athletic programs until the project is completed?
Answer: We are working with SEW to host some of our home events at their facility. SEW has been very gracious to us and we are thankful for their hospitality. Our district put a new floor in the elementary gym this summer that is better suited for athletic practices. Our volleyball teams have been using the elementary gym for practice all fall. We will continue to use it for basketball practices this winter. However, we will have more teams that will need to use the facility than in the fall. All junior high and high school boys’ and girls’ basketball teams will need to use the facility for practice. There is not enough space or time to accommodate all of our needs. The district reached out to the local facilities and only one was willing and/or able to let us use their facility. The Marion County Extension Office, in Knoxville, has a gym they are willing to let us use at no cost. During the basketball season there were only 12 dates that we were not able to accommodate all of our practices at the elementary gym. On those 12 dates, we will bus the junior high basketball teams to and from practice at the Marion County Extension Office.
I would like to personally thank the community of Melcher-Dallas for supporting our students and their academic and athletic programs. We will continue to communicate with our stakeholders as more information becomes available. I am excited about this project and what it means for the future of our district.