USD 475 to Hold Public Hearing

The USD 475 Board of Education is holding a public hearing for its high school construction program. The purpose of the hearing is to allow for public comment about possible enhancements to the project.

Kansas statute requires a hearing when a bonded project exceeds 20 percent of the original bond amount. The project, to include all design costs, fees, permits and infrastructure improvement, is currently priced just below that limit.

David Wild, USD 475 Chief Operations Officer, explains that, during design development, the Board asked for input from the community, student body and staff.

“Coupled with market conditions, the end result was a project that bid out well in excess of the bonded amount. We knew we would have to bring some fiscal discipline into bid evaluations,” Wild states.

Wild added; “We worked diligently with SJCF Architecture and Hutton Construction to cut out $27M in costs. The Board now, understandably, wants to take a look at those elements of the project so it may consider the possibility of adding back some items.”

Before the Board can consider any further project enhancements, the public is to be given opportunity to know what those enhancements might include, associated costs, and make comment for board consideration.

Following the hearing, the Board has three options. It can approve the additional work, determine scope changes under consideration are not feasible, or submit the increased costs to a new election.

“The Board’s guiding principal remains that any enhancements to be considered will not result in the issuance of additional bonds or change the current District mill levy assessment,” Wild concluded. 

Enhancements for primary consideration include an Orchestra room and auxiliary gym expansion. Additional enhancements considered are an outdoor pool, tennis courts, and outdoor sports facilities.

The hearing is scheduled for April 21st at 6:30pm at the Devin Center. Due to the current ban on public gatherings, the Board will determine how to best allow the public to make comments at the hearing, and will share that information with the public as it becomes available.

The District and Hutton Construction continue to monitor market and COVID-19 impacts closely. Hutton reports that, for now, the project remains on schedule for opening in the fall of 2021.