Agricultural building back in plans for new Cave City High School
Cave City's students with an interest in agriculture may have a place to call their own with the help of some state funding.
The Cave City School District has been conditionally approved for a $522,900 grant from the Arkansas Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation Commission for construction of an agriculture education building.
"Our agri department is important to us," Superintendent Steven Green said. "Some students don't go to college, and we want to do our best to provide them with something they're interested in. Our agri department helps us do that."
The district applied for the funding in December 2005 through the transitional facilities program. With the funding assistance, the $772,800 building will cost the district roughly $249,000, Green said. Batesville, Melbourne and Izard County Consolidated school districts were also awarded funds, he said.
"If you incur debt between July 1, 2005, and June 30, 2006, it gives you an opportunity to participate," Green said, adding that the funding is also based in part on the wealth index of the district's patrons.
"In this case, us being poor is a good thing," Green said. "It's important they partner with you."
The board entered into a lease/purchase agreement for up to $800,000 for the building. The state will reimburse the district as the work is completed, Green said. The 10-year note is set at 4.7-percent interest.
"We put that with our application to give evidence to the state that we are serious about this project," Green said.
The agriculture building will be located near the new high school and gym under construction across Highway 167 from the current campus. The agri building was originally in the plans for the new complex, but increases in prices forced the school board to omit it from the project.
When the board began planning for the new $6 million high school complex it estimated the cost at $60 per square foot to construct, but by the time the district accepted bids the prices had jumped.
"When we went to bid we had some uncertainty in the economy," Green said. "The bids came in at $69 per square foot. That was a substantial increase."
The board met with contractors and cut the bid by $500,000 to $7.6 million, but still not low enough to include the agri building.
"That increase in price basically ate up our agri building," Green said. "Then the transitional program came out and the good Lord just kind of led us to it."
The district's portion of the building will come from a cushion account the school board has been building up through the years.
"The board and (former superintendent and now acting assistant superintendent) Mr. (Larry) Brown did a good job to build up a little nest egg. Last year it was $1.6 million. They knew that we might spend that down to provide a new campus for our students," Green said, adding that the school board also set aside the consolidation incentive money from the Evening Shade consolidation to help pay for the project.
The new agriculture building isn't the only thing in the works for the school district. Green submitted the district's master plan to the state Jan. 31, one day before deadline.
"The New Facilities Act requires a lot of work," Green said.
The facilities study began in 2004 after the 2003 session. The facility condition index ranks district buildings according to needs and improvements. The higher the number, the worse condition the building is in.
Based on the 2005 study, at the Cave City campus, the elementary school requires 20.47 percent of work and the high school requires 19.9 percent. The Evening Shade Elementary School requires 21.18 percent of work and the high school requires 24.85 percent, Green said.
Those deficiencies must be addressed in the district's three-year plan for the future. The district plans to apply to partner with the state for several projects including ground preparation and paving, voice and data cabling and wiring, telephone systems, video surveillance, new heating and cooling systems, new carpet and metal roofs for some of the district's buildings. The applications for partnership are due by March 1.
"It will have to be a renovation or improvement or new construction to make things more suitable," Green said, adding that the facility condition index affects funding decisions.
"To get state assistance you have to make sure you meet International Code," Green said. "You have to upgrade to get state funding. In some instances, what would have cost us $2,000 may cost about $7,500. That's why partnership is so important."
The district should know if the master plan is approved by May 1. Green should know if the partnerships were approved by July 1.