Highland board OKs $3.7 million schools project

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The Highland school board, buoyed by interest rates and construction bids that came in lower than projected, Monday night approved the sale of bonds and bids for work at the elementary and high schools.

“I think we hit this at the right time,” Superintendent Ken Crawford told the board.

The board approved sale of the bonds by UMB Bank of Kansas City with Hills Bank and Trust as the local bank.

Bids for the bond sale were opened at 1 p.m. on Monday.

UMB Bank offered an interest rate of 1.44362%. That long string of digits on the right side of the decimal point was important. The next lowest bidder was Robert W. Baird & Company of Milwaukee. Their bid was for an interest rate of 1.443352%, just .000268 points higher.

What’s the difference?

Over the nine-year payback of the loan, UMB Bank’s bid was $28 lower than Robert W. Baird’s, according to financial analyst Tim Oswald of Piper Sandler & Company, the firm handling the bond sale for the district.

“They were virtually identical,” Oswald said.

The actual resolution, which takes into account a number of factors, was to sell UMB Bank the bonds for $3,811,213.70 with a net interest cost over the life of the bonds of $325,030.

Those figures were substantially lower than the projected interest rate of 3% that was presented to voters when they approved the bond sale in September.

What does this mean for district taxpayers?

“You can meet the commitment you made for no tax increase for the bond issue,” Oswald said.

After approving the bond sale, the board approved the two projects to be funded by the bonds.

  The playground renovation at Highland Elementary School was awarded to the J. Harding company with a bid of $388,0000, plus a $2,600 alternative to add a glider apparatus that accommodates a wheelchair. The cost of the glider will be paid by the ESO, the Highland Elementary parent-school support organization.

Representatives from MMS Consultants presented a revised diagram of the playground, showing the orientation shifted 90 degrees. Crawford said the realignment lowered the project cost by eliminating grading work.

The larger part of the bond projects was for work at the high school and middle school building including replacement of the heating and air conditioning system, replacement of windows and an addition to the fine arts classroom and renovation of locker rooms.

The bid for the high school work was awarded to Peak Construction of North Liberty for a base of $1.886 million plus alternatives totaling up to $2.589 million.

That total could end up being $15,000 lower if the board elects to go with windows that do not open.

Board members had a long discussion about whether to go with operable windows or inoperable windows.

The case for the operable windows – windows that can be opened – was to allow fresh air into the classrooms and to offer an avenue of escape in case of an emergency.

On the other side of the argument, there was concern that open windows would negate the efficiency of the new heating and air conditioning system.

Crawford told the board that it did not have to make a decision Monday night.

Board President Nate Robinson said the issue should be presented to the school facilities committee, comprised of people with contracting and construction experience.

The board would decide on windows after getting a recommendation from the committee.

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