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Mitchell outlines upcoming school facilities projects

Mitchell outlines upcoming school facilities projects
The Charles City high school and middle school campus. Press photo by Bob Steenson
By James Grob,

Charles City Buildings and Grounds Director Jerry Mitchell outlined just over $1 million worth of facilities projects and purchases to be completed during the 2020-21 school year, at the meeting of the Charles City Board of Education this week.

The school board unanimously approved the projects, which include $250,000 for track resurfacing, more than $233,000 for a district technology upgrade and $115,000 for an updated playground at Lincoln Elementary school.

“I think the facilities plan is a good opportunity for the district to see what our priorities are going to be for the next year,” said board President Josh Mack. “It also gives the opportunity for our staff to have some input on the some of the items”

Specifically, Mack pointed out that building principals decided what kind of carpeting they wanted and where. Mitchell said that principals can pick and choose which rooms they want done for the amount of money they’re allocated. The carpeting project is budgeted at $25,000.

“I think that’s different from what we’ve done in the past,” Mack said. “I think that’s beneficial, for our staff to understand how that’s going to work.”

The technology purchase includes the 5-year lease of 1,360 HP Chromebook student devices from Now Micro at a monthly cost of $4,728, the 5-year lease of 132 audio visual classrooms from Marco Technologies at a monthly cost of $14,720, and the 5-year lease of 44 Toshiba and Lexmark products and managed print services from Access Systems for a monthly cost of $3,527.

Mack called it a it a “really exciting and positive change.”

“I do think technology is the driver of education,” he said. “When students come to our district and see advanced, innovative technology, they will want to be a part of our district and a part of our family.”

A new phone system at a cost of $43,399 will be split between the general fund and facility funds.

Mitchell said most of the projects won’t start until May or June of next year, with some exceptions, such as the Comet Field lights, budgeted at $52,661 per year over five years.

“This project will start sometime this May,” he said. “It says five-year lease, but at the end of that five years, it’s 100% paid off and it’s ours.”

Mitchell said the project can start early because the first payment won’t be due until one year after the project is started.

“When we say we’re leasing the football field lights, what that really means is we’re financing them,” said Charles City Superintendent of Schools Mike Fisher. “We’re going to pay for the lights over a five-year period, and then they’ll be ours.”

The grand total for the projects is $1,061,015, of which $861,015 will come from the 2020-21 annual budget and $200,000 will come from a release from the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) for the technology upgrade.

A total of $387,955 worth of the projects are labeled as annual expense allowances while $673,060 are labeled as additional projects.

Track resurfacing will include grinding the track down, repaving the blacktop, resurfacing and repainting the track, according to Mitchell.

He said the Lincoln playground upgrade will be similar to the one recently completed at Washington Elementary.

Another project is the resurfacing of the tennis courts at Sportsman’s Park, which will cost the district $50,000. The city of Charles City will pay for half of the project.

“They’re in rough shape,” Mitchell said of the tennis courts. “With us using them for our high school athletics, we are going half and half with the city, and it’s going really well.”

The district will also purchase a used 12-passenger van at a cost of $18,000. Mitchell explained that state requirements have been adjusted to allow the district to buy a 12-passenger van rather than a 9-passenger van, with the stipulation that it has to be a used vehicle.

“We’ll buy the newest used vehicle we can get,” Mitchell said.

Fisher said that the district currently has one 12-passenger van, and the additional van will be for general purpose use. The district will also buy another Suburban, with special education money, specifically for special education student routes.

Other facilities items budgeted include fencing around Comet Field at the cost of $80,000 and replacement of a section of the high school roof, at the cost of $64,000.

Mitchell said the fence around Comet Field will be changed to a black fence, to match the fencing on the baseball and softball fields on the new athletic complex. He also said the section of the high school roof to be replaced is the oldest section of roof in the district.

Fisher said the roof section is a part of the high school where there are no plans for any future high school renovations.

A complete list of facilities projects in the budget is available on the school district’s website, as an exhibit with Monday’s school board meeting minutes.