The April meeting of the Storm Lake Board of Education was to be the magic date when a decision would be revealed as to what would become of West, North and South elementary school buildings when the new communitywide elementary is complete.
The board admitted that not enough information has been gathered for those decisions to be made. South is expected to remain intact and used for its auditorium and gym, but specific purposes are undetermined. East will remain, as a preschool.
An appraiser has not yet been brought in to determine what the buildings are worth. Superintendent Dr. Paul Tedesco did introduce estimated costs for asbestos removal from North and West - and it's not going to be cheap.
According to an estimate received from Ames Environmental Inc., it could cost up to $205,000 ($20,000-$25,000 for North and $120,000-$180,000 for West) to remove the asbestos before other uses of demolition could take place. Estimates are based on inspection completed earlier.
Demolition costs were also discussed. An estimate was provided by DeWild Grant Reckert and Associates Co. from Sioux City. It was reported that the company had prepared plans and specifications for the demolition of three school buildings for the Sioux City School District in 2003. The estimated cost to them was approximately $2.60 per square foot of floor area. In order to account for inflation, it was estimated that those costs could be $3.80 per square foot in Storm Lake with an estimated cost of $15 per cubic yard for the cost of backfilling the remaining excavation where the buildings stood.
Based on these estimates, it was determined that the cost of the demolition of North School could be $112,630 and the cost of the demolition of West School could be $150,594.
Board president Mark Schultz said he does not want to see the buildings remain empty once the students move out.
There has been suggestions that the North and West locations be turned into townhouses or other housing units which would generate property taxes for the school district. The board feels it is important to have appraisals done and to contact local developers to see if there is an interest in the property.
Also at the recent meeting, the board adopted the budget for the 2007-08 year at a levy rate that is not expected to exceed last year's rate.
Depending on legislative action, the levy rate of $17.39, which was approved, can be reduced down by Iowa Department of Management, according to Tedesco. He explained that once the information is filed with the state, the number can be reduced, but not increased.
He explained that the debt service has been reduced from $1.71 to $1.65. "That's a good thing for our tax payers," he said.
The public is invited to continue sharing ideas for North, South and West Schools with board members or Dr. Tedesco.