School district seeks long-term solutions

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Bricks and mortar won over replacing portable classrooms with more portables in the Carson City School District.

The district Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved plans to pursue bonding for a permanent replacement for mold-infested portable classrooms to be removed from Bordewich-Bray Elementary School. The specifics of the bond measure for the Nov. 7 election as well as what a new building involves will be decided later.

"We are voting for a bricks and mortar solution rather than portables at this time," said board Vice President Doug Ponn. "Then, at some future date, we will decide just what that bricks and mortar solution will be."

Going for the long-term solution was the decision that parent Kay Scherer wanted to hear.

"It's the best use of the taxpayer's dollars, the best plan for the campus," said Scherer who had attended all three of the board meetings when the mold problem was discussed. "It's not as safe as it could be -- students move back and forth (between the Bray building and Bordewich building). It feels like a good decision."

Even though her fifth-grade son will move on to middle school next year, Scherer promised to support the bond and construction plan.

Mike Mitchell, the district's director of operations, presented the board with a cost benefit analysis that indicated a permanent building provided a superior long-term investment.

To replace the 15,000 square feet of space that will be lost by removal of the portables after the school year ends, portables would initially cost $750,000 compared to $1.87 million for new construction.

However, the portables would have to be replaced three times to stretch the expected life of 60 years for a new building. That brings the cost for portables to $2.2 million for the time span.

Maintenance and operation of portables costs about three times what it costs for a permanent structure, Mitchell explained, relying on his experience maintaining the district's portables.

"(Approving a construction project) flies in the face of how we've operated over the last 10 years. It's expedient and necessary sometimes," Mitchell said. "But, if we plan, we can go for 60 years."

The board will have to approve language for the bond measure by the second meeting in April. Then it would go to the Debt Management Committee for analysis.

In a special public meeting on Monday, the board of trustees discussed a $3.75 million project. Bonding for that amount would not raise property taxes but the amount now earmarked for schools would be carried for a longer period of time.

Currently, the mold-infested buildings have been cleaned and are tested at least monthly. They will continue to be used for the remainder of the school year.

Where those classes will go remains to be decided. However, Mitchell expects to be able to replace two portables with special education grants for those students. That leaves music, the library, nurses office and other student resource offices to be relocated.


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