Blair Oaks pondering expansion

Blair Oaks School Board agreed Tuesday night to meet again next week in special session to further explore plans for facility expansions.

At the special meeting — scheduled for 7 p.m. next Tuesday — architect Cary Gampher is expected to discuss his proposals for campus improvements.

Preliminary costs for those improvements have been estimated at $300,000 to $400,000 to add classrooms and a teacher work space at the elementary school, $120,000 to install air conditioning in the high school gymnasium, $800,000 to build a new weight/wrestling room and $20,000 to improve the district’s track-and-field facility.

Jones suggested the new weight/wrestling room could also be used as a multipurpose space by the high school’s dance and cheer squads.

Last month, the board agreed to expend $25,000 to give Gampher the ability to explore those ideas.

Next Tuesday, board members will also learn about the possibility to pay for the improvements through a lease-purchase process. Typically, a lease-purchase agreement allows for portions of lease payments to be used to pay for the property being constructed.

“If we do a lease-purchase, Cary would come in and show us the preliminary drawings of what we’ll do,” Superintendent Jim Jones told the board at its regular monthly meeting.

The drawings would not be

official construction documents, Jones said, but would convey information about basic floor designs in order to give board members a better idea if they want to move forward with those projects or head a different direction.

Gampher will also discuss the need to schedule a public hearing to raise the funds.

“It would be like a tax rate hearing,” Jones suggested.

In his remarks to the board, Jones also talked extensively about other projects on the district’s wish list. He noted although several facility improvements have been completed, many still wait in the wings.

He said if board members have additional ideas, he would be glad to add them to his list of potential capital improvements.

“If there are things you want me to add, tell me,” he said.

Board member Brad Spicer brought up the need to make the schools safer by renovating the buildings’ entrances. Jones said those improvements are currently being planned. In particular, he said, the architect is considering ways to make the elementary school’s front entrance safer, by bumping out the existing front entrance, but is stymied by a set of stairs in front of the building.

“It’s on the move,” Jones said. “It’s expensive.”

Spicer also said he’d like the board to reaffirm Jones’ list of priorities. Jones responded he will have his office send out the list to the board members for their perusal.

In other business, the board reorganized and re-elected its leaders. Greg Russell was re-elected as board president; Jim Singer was elected vice-president and John Weber was elected treasurer.

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