(Neb)-Crawford School Board Approves Final Phase Of Remodeling
By Kerri Remp, Chadron Record Editor
CRAWFORD - On a 5-1 vote, and in front of a standing room only crowd, the Crawford School Board Monday determined that the district will move forward with phase three of its building renovations.
The project, at an estimated cost of $705,000, includes work on the elementary kitchen and cafeteria, exterior and interior door upgrades and the relocation of the elementary library and district central office. The work on the library and central office, which equates to about $66,000 of the project, was cause for concern for several patrons from the community, and more than 50 individuals filled the board room hoping to sway the board’s decision one way or the other.
Rich Robertson served as a spokesman for a group of opponents to the project (it was unclear how many in the room were for or against the plan), asking the board a series of questions they came up with at a meeting last week.
“Basically, what it comes down to is accountability to the taxpayers,” Robertson said, questioning if the board had reviewed other options before settling on this course of action. The group supports the work on the kitchen and doors, he continued, but doesn’t see the necessity of reworking the library or the district office.
The district began looking at renovations with a planning committee consisting of school board members, district staff and community members in 2015. Phase one was completed in 2016 and made improvements at the high school, while phase two renovations at the elementary were carried out in 2017.
Board member J.R. Wasserburger addressed some of the concerns brought forward by the group prior to the vote, noting that the planning committee’s first priority was “to have positive impact on student learning.”
Despite rumblings to the contrary, work on the district office was on the list from the beginning of the planning, not a last-minute addition. The project will move the office to a more central location in the building, providing exterior, handicapped access to the office for patrons, Wasserburger explained. The relocation of the library and conversion of other space in the school will also centralize the library between classrooms and provide testing space.
Elementary teachers have long lacked space for individual or small group teaching, such as tutoring, said Superintendent Kirk Hughes. The renovations will create that type of space, as well as a designated testing area, which will allow the library to remain open and accessible at all times.
“The building and grounds committee looked at all different combinations of options with regards to costs to the district,” Wasserburger said. “The additional cost (of the district office/library) was minimal in comparison to the overall project, which still falls well under the initial price limits. Based on all of these factors, the building and grounds committee has made the recommendation brought forward today.”
The district office/library portion of the project, at $66,500, will increase property taxes by $2.47 per year for seven years for a property valued at $61,000, Hughes said. That figure increases to $40.53 per year for seven years for a property valued at $1 million.
In total, the completed renovations for all three phases will represent $4.4 million in improvements. The high school renovations carried a price tag of more than $1.9 million with a payoff of 20 years and a current levy of .051711. The phase two renovations at the elementary school tallied more than $1.7 million, also with a payoff of 20 years and a levy of .047401.
The project approved this week will be paid off in seven years.
“The district has taken on an aggressive remodeling project,” Hughes said. “This will give us more flexibility to use the space more efficiently.”
A motion by board member Barry Stewart to split the phase three projects into four separate motions for the board to vote on died lacking a second. Stewart was the only board member to vote against the project.
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