School of the Osage officials continue to savor voter-approval of a $22 million bond issue April 2 for renovation of the Heritage Building to include the Mills Elementary School and administration offices.
But the district is quickly moving forward with the next phase of the project, which is to meet with the architects and construction management people to work out final details.
The bond issue was approved with a 63.9 percent majority, far more than the 57.25 super majority needed for approval. The final vote was 1,079 in favor and 690 opposed.
The margin of victory in Miller County was 67.3 percent (585 to 394) and was 59.3 percent in Camden County (487 to 289). The vote was tied 7-7 in Morgan County.
“We are very appreciative for the community’s support,” Superintendent Brent Depeé said shortly after the victory. “We’d really like to thank all of our supporters.”
The design was substantially complete before the election, and Depeé said should be finalized by early May.
“The architect and construction manager will be working diligently to get the bid documents out by late spring,” the superintendent said. “The board of education will begin accepting bids and awarding contracts this summer.”
Depeé said school officials decided to use a construction manager so local companies could have an opportunity to compete for the work. The project will be broken into about 18 bidding packages.
“Had we gone with a general contractor, most of our local people could not have competed because they would not have the (insurance) bonding capacity to cover a $22 million project,” Depeé said.
A completion date of July/August next year is anticipated.
The issue, the plan
The bond issue addresses pre-k to second grade overcrowding at the Mills Elementary School, security improvements to existing schools and updating of the high school science labs.
The district’s bond levy will increase from $2.72 per $100 of assessed valuation to $2.849, a 12.9-cent increase. The Osage levy will still be among the lowest in the state, and less than area school districts.
The rates in nearby communities are Camdenton $2.87, Eldon $3.54 and Iberia $3.65.
The project calls for a 24-classroom elementary school addition to the Heritage Building, as well as renovations and improvements to the existing Heritage Building and campus. The elementary school addition will increase the number and size of classrooms and provide technology needed for current teaching methods. Construction plans include elevator and ADA access, and energy efficient lighting, heating and cooling. The Heritage campus will benefit with improved parent and bus drop-off and pickup, increased and improved parking and improved security and safety measures.
Page 2 of 2 - After carefully considering several site and costs options, the board of education, with input from the Facilities Planning Steering Committee, chose to retain and improve the Heritage campus, thus saving nearly $6 million over the cost of constructing a new similarly sized building and elementary school campus. This will not require the relocation of elementary grade students during construction, and it uses an existing campus. School officials say renovating the Heritage Building will provide Osage students with a link to the past and an understanding of the rich and full history of the School of the Osage School District.
The bond issue will also fund necessary security improvements to existing schools to help ensure safe and secure facilities. High School science labs will be will be updated to encourage and enhance student performance in an academic area that has grown within the district.
The district currently has about 450 pre-k through second grade students. The proposed addition and renovations would increase capacity to about 750 students.