TCS approves $9M in projects at ECC, CHHS

Published 11:00 pm Monday, October 10, 2011

With school board approval in hand, Superintendent Lee Hicks will meet with architects today to begin capital improvement projects at the elementary and high schools.

“I’m actually meeting with the architects (today),” Hicks said after Monday’s called meeting of the Troy City Schools Board of Education. “I’ve stressed to them the importance of getting these done quickly. We want to reduce the inconvenience to the parents, faculty and staff and students.”

The board, sans absent member Al Jones, voted unanimously Monday to approve two of three recommended capital improvement projects:

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• A $6.051 million project o construct 20 new classrooms and expand the kitchen at the Hank Jones Early Childhood Center. The project is part of a master plan to move open a pre-K program for 4-year-olds and to move the first and second grade classrooms from the main building at the elementary school to the ECC.

• And a $3.099 million plan to build a new cafeteria and multi-purpose facility on the Charles Henderson High School campus. As part of that work the existing cafeteria will be renovated to a new media center.

Both bids were awarded to McKee and Associates.

However, Hicks said he was not recommending the board take action at this point on a $5.57 million proposal for extensive renovations at Charles Henderson Middle School. “Mr. Daughtry (CFO) and I have talked, and we want to wait a couple of months before we begin work on that project, to make sure everything is on pace with these renovations,” Hicks said.

The capital improvements will be funded by the proceeds a $15 million bond issue. The district secured the funding in the spring as part of a debt restructuring process.

Hicks said his plan is to complete the ECC and high school projects during the 2011-2012 school year. “We need to have the ECC classrooms ready by the start of school in August (2012),” he said.

“The cafetorium (at the high school) should be completed around November of next year.”

He said plans call for construction on the middle school project to begin the fall of 2013, with completion by the fall of 2014. Middle school students will have to be relocated during the 2013-2014 school year, with sixth-grade likely moving to the elementary school and seventh and eighth grade moving to the high school.

Despite the availability of the $15 million in capital funds, board members last week raised concerns about the district’s ability to repay the bonds and handle the additional debt payments once the funds are spent.

Debt service would double from approximately $750,000 in FYE11 to approximately $1.484 million by FYE15, said Mickey Daughtry, CFO of the disrict.

“By 2020, if nothing changes significantly from our current projections, you will be in the hole, meaning you will have exhausted the reserve and your debt service and expenses will exceed revenues,” Daughtry said.

Hicks said Monday the key to understanding the importance of this capital investment is that it will provide opportunities for the district to grow.

“We went into the reserves this year to keep the teachers we have. We’re losing students, and if we don’t do something to get them back and grow enrollment, we’re going to be facing the same problem (in lack of money).”

Hicks said last week the opportunity to add a pre-K program could provide another source of revenue for the district. And, because state and federal funding is driven off multipliers based on student enrollment, increasing enrollment can mean additional state funding.

The board meets again in two weeks.