After months of delays, crews have begun work on two major construction projects in the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District.
The $4.1 million effort is funded by Proposition Y, a $9 million bond approved by voters in April 2010 and will continue renovations to the MRH Early Childhood Center and add a courtyard and parking lot for the high school. John Kayser, senior superintendent for construction company SM Wilson, informed the MRH Board of Education about the progress at its regular meeting Thursday night.
“We have permits, and we have started in both locations,” Kayser said, explaining that demolition has started at the early childhood center while infrastructure work is underway for the parking lot.
The project, originally slated to begin in March, was delayed until this summer after some of the bid packages failed to attract any bidders. But S.M. Wilson presented the board with enough bids to move work forward during a meeting in May.
On Thursday, David Schlueter, senior project manager for S.M. Wilson, said the remaining work packages had finally gained bidders. He presented the board with his final recommendations, which it approved. Schlueter also delivered another piece of good news. The projects will stay more under budget than originally thought.
During May's meeting, Schlueter expected the project to be $4,000 under budget.
"Based on these new numbers and the additional numbers we have been able to get for those unawarded work packages, we are showing a savings of $32,000,” Schlueter said.
The savings will give the board some breathing room to consider a number of alternate work packages that were also bid, Schlueter said. Such alternates are a wish list of items that are not vital to the project and may be taken up by the board at a later date.
Budget amendment boosts fund balance
The board approved its final monthly budget amendment for the 2010-2011 fiscal year and added $182,000 to its reserve fund balance.
MRH Finance Director Kay Lesley presented the amendment to the board and said a variety of factors contributed to the extra cash. On the revenue side, the tax collection rate from homeowners living in the district went from 99 percent to 99.45 percent, which netted about $65,000. An increase in preschool revenues brought in about $29,000.
Lesley said the district also received a $30,000 boost from the inclusion of two grants she had thought might not make it through until next fiscal year.
Expenses were also down, thanks to overall savings in the district’s utility bill, despite an electric bill of $31,000 for the month of June alone. The retirement of several employees in the middle of the year also spared the district the costs budgeted for the employees’ benefits.
“It’s the way you like it when you set a budget, to come in over what you budgeted for revenues and under what you budgeted for expenditures,” Lesley said.