BOE approves revised BG-1 to construct larger preschool

Published 3:28 pm Thursday, December 1, 2022

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Cheers and applause rang out as a motion passed at a special-called meeting of the Clark County Public Schools (CCPS) Board of Education on Tuesday evening.

After months of planning and years of waiting, the board approved a revised BG-1 to construct the Clark County Early Childhood Development Center and Preschool.

“The preschool needs to be addressed,” said board chair Bill Taulbee. “There was an outpouring of the community for a new athletic complex and the preschool…There was more for the athletic complex, but this was the next project.”

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Board member Ashley Ritchie wants to ensure the project is done correctly.

“When I voted for the athletic complex, and I did at that time, we looked at it as something that could bring in funding so we could start on this project,” Ritchie said. “Back then, I said I didn’t want a halfway preschool. I said I wanted to do it right.

The bid for constructing the project will be cheaper than initially thought.

John Hagan of Codell Construction had informed the board in September when the project went to bid, that the base cost would be around $21.2 million.

After negotiations and value engineering, Hagan said the bid is now $2 million cheaper.

“Tonight’s proposed cost – base bid only – $19,055,011. The revised base bid with all the alternates cost. $20,890,213,” Hagan said.

Hagan cautioned that the price tag only included construction costs.

“It does not include any of the soft costs such as the architect, the construction manager, and furniture; those types of things,” he said about the bid.

Other items, such as a bus canopy and playground equipment, would add close to 250,000 to the project’s cost.

The project was formally approved in Oct. 2020 after pleas from the community to replace the preschool’s current location at 30 Beckner St., which many consider badly outdated.

In May 2021, the board chose a 12-acre site behind Strode Station Elementary School for the planned facility that will be over 40,000 square feet and will accommodate 450 students.

The project cost has risen significantly due to the skyrocketing price of construction materials.

At the time of approval, construction was estimated to cost $9.3 million. The estimated cost was 13.6 million in January and rose to $20 million in April.

Paying for the project will eat up most of the district’s bonding capacity, which is the amount of money it can borrow from a financial institution of over $25.

The good news is that the district’s capacity will go up by $2 million by the end of the project’s estimated 22-month construction process and will also increase as other projects are paid off.

“GRC is ten years old, so in the next ten years, we will get a significant increase in our capacity once GRC is paid off,” said the district’s administrative director, Donald Stump.

The district could also sell some property to generate more funds for the project.

Plans for the size of the facility have also grown.

The original plan called for the facility to accommodate 350 students, but the chance to use the building for other possibilities necessitated the change.

“It would give us room to have a long-term vision to deal with growth and deal with our elementary schools – not deal with, but help support our students,” said CCPS Superintendent Dustin Howard. “I think this is more of a visionary approach instead of minimalistic.”

Board member Dora Hall agreed with Howard.

“Looking at longevity and the future of what will need in Clark County. There are several ideas and things that can happen…For children who aren’t doing well in school when they come into kindergarten, maybe having a specialized kindergarten or maybe even overflow from Strode’s Station [Elementary],” Hall said.

After the motion passed and as the cheering died down, Taulbee apologized to the preschool staff for the long wait on the project.

One staff member in attendance said being in the classroom taught them patience.

And now that patience has paid off for a facility that hopefully ensures a bright head start for the area’s future – its children.