Budget still under consideration at press time

By Tony Pennington

Transcript Staff Writer

The Norman Public Schools district continues to make progress on its 2005 bond issue construction projects as the last two packages will be sent out for bidding.

The NPS Board of Education authorized Bill Kaighn of Kaighn Architects Associates Inc., at its regular meeting Monday night, to solicit bids for the eight classroom additions at Jefferson and McKinley Elementaries and the athletic field facility at Harve Collins Field. Their approval followed an acceptance of the construction document phase on both projects. During his presentation, Kaighn informed the board the increased costs associated with construction would drive the projects over allocated bond funds.

"These projects will use a lot of the funds we were under from pervious projects," Kaighn said. "At this point we think we are $16,000 over the designated bond funds. As you recall there is about $1.4 million in undesignated funds. So we think we are in good shape."

The $1,403,502 in undesignated funds were factored into the $16 million bond issue as a way to ensure the district would complete all of its capital improvement projects.

According to Kaighn, the combined classroom additions were estimated at $2,456,786.37, or more than $300,000 above the $2,110,000 allocated in bond funds. The athletic field facility was projected at $1,518,132.06. The facility estimate is more than $100,000 above the $1,376,000 set aside in bond funds. While the price tags have risen, Dr. Joseph Siano is positive about the need those projects will answer in the district.

"The classroom additions are part of a plan of moving forward," he said. "Both of these schools are holding their populations. It is in our interests to go through the district and replace temporary buildings because we would like all of the students in permanent class rooms."

Siano also said the new athletic facility would be an improvement to Harve Collins and provide additional and better services to students.

"It will increase locker room space for all sports and for both high schools as it serves as a districtwide sports facility," he said.

The board will have to wait until next month's regular meeting when Kaighn returns with bids to find out if his estimates are accurate.

At press time NPS was still in session and had yet to take action on the 2006-2007 budget; and the proposed hiring of principals at Cleveland and Kennedy Elementaries and assistant principals at Alcott Middle School and Norman High School.

Tony Pennington 366-3541 schools@normantranscript.com

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