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School district planning how to upgrade older buildings

Study could make financing, grants possible


Figuring out how to combine needed upgrades on two old school buildings is expected to save money, so the firm McKinstry is currently performing an “audit” of the former middle school, and on the former high school, referred to now as the Career Technical Education building.

McKinstry, a “design, build, operate and maintain firm,” will identify things that can be fixed in these buildings, such as lighting, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, roofing, windows, doors and more, and to use that information to create big projects on which the school district can call for bids.

The projects will be paid for with money from its four-year capital-projects levy, which voters passed in August. The levy will bring about half a million dollars into the district each year for the next four years.

“One of the things I’ve talked to the board about is, how do we maximize our potential use of those funds,” said Grand Coulee Dam School District Superintendent Paul Turner.

Turner reasons that the total cost of the work to be done would be cheaper if it were from just one or two bids on larger projects rather than from several bids for several smaller projects.

The district board of directors recently gave Turner a green light on the approach, which could open up a financing option and speed up the upgrades.

“They gave me the go-ahead that if we come up with a larger project, we can look at borrowing off of our years two, three and four of our levy. So we can borrow the money, do the project; then as we collect the money over the next three years, pay the loan off.”

The total cost for the audit is $38,600, which will be incorporated into the projects, Turner said.

“We’re not going to spend it now; it’s going to be on the books, but as we go through these projects they’ll recoup their money through the work on the projects they do.”

The audit will be done in October, at the latest, as the school district is also applying for two grants, one state and one federal, which have to be applied for by November.

“The state one deals with small school projects, and the federal one deals with energy efficiency,” Turner explained.

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