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School roof repair bids approved

By Greg Bird

Due to cold the cold weather and cancellation of schools Thursday and Friday, the first regular session of the new McCreary County Board of Education was held without the typical presentations from schools, but regular business was conducted as usual.
The half-hour meeting focused mainly on two planned construction projects: replacing roofs at McCreary Central High School and Pine Knot Elementary.
The Board approved accepting the low bids for both projects, Brazos Urethane for the high school roof, and Olympic Construction for Pine Knot Elementary. Both bids came in lower than projected, potentially saving the District about $800,000 in overall costs for the repairs.
In total the projects will cost about $2.14 million, considerably less expensive than initially thought when the plans for construction were first proposed in August. The first estimates for replacing both roofs came in at about $3.5 million, but the competitive bid process was able to substantially lower the cost.
In order to officially be able to issue bonds for the project the Board had to convene a meeting of the McCreary County School District Finance Corporation, consisting of the members of the Board of Education. Due to legal statutes, the Board approved a resolution authorizing the issuance of bonds through their fiscal agent.
It was noted the School District’s bonding capacity prior to issuing the bonds stood at $4.5 million. The new bonds will reduce that figure, but in four years, as older construction bonds are paid off, the bonding capacity will increase substantially.
The bonds are expected to be issued within the next three weeks, giving the District the capital to begin payment to the contractors for the work.

While a definite timeline for the repairs has not been established, the high school roof project could begin soon, while Pine Knot will most likely begin once school is on summer break. Both projects are expected to be completed before school begins again in the fall, and should not impact school functions.
Superintendent Michael Cash noted that if the roofs at the two buildings are replaced, all schools within the District would have had new roofs installed in recent years, allowing the Board to focus on other projects.
The roofs, long in need of repair or replacement, were the subjects of much scrutiny in 2017 when the Board attempted to pass an additional nickel tax to pay for the work.
The Board hoped to finance the roof work, and an expansion at the middle school through the passage of a nickel tax. The tax would have generated about $260,000 in additional revenue for the District that would have been dedicated to the construction fund and allocated for the three projects. Additionally, the state would have provided a nearly 3-1 match, garnering about $750,000 in additional funding for the construction.
The tax was protested by citizens and subjected to a public recall election last fall. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposal for an additional tax and defeated the measure.
last year the Kentucky legislature removed the matching funding for such a tax, so another attempt at passing a nickel tax would not benefit the school district as it would have previously.

In other business the Board approved an agreement with ProCare Blazer Works to provide Speech Language Pathologist Assistants to the District through telecommunications services.
It was explained to the Board last week that the agreement was needed to provide speech therapy to students, as there was a shortage of qualified personnel able to perform the required jobs on site. Superintendent Cash said the work would begin once the newly contracted assistants complete a background check.
The Board also officially approved the calendar for the 2019-20 school year. Next year the first day for students will be on August 14, and the last day will be on May 13. Fall break will be from October 7-11, and spring break: April 6-10.

The McCreary County Board of Education’s next regular scheduled meeting will be on Monday, February 25 at 6:30 p.m. in the Central Office.

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