New building is simply too big

First off, I would like to thank everyone for the replies to my letters to the editor.Some need to realize that I sometimes use sarcasm or tongue in cheek humor to get my point across. I will have to apologize if I misspoke about the cost of the balloting. That's what I had in my notes from previous school board meetings. Nothing else in those letters were disputed.First, 92.5 percent of all taxes pays for services — 51 percent school, 42.5 percent county and 7.5 percent for NICC, townships and cemeteries. I know all services are currently being funded. I don't know of a service that you can't get here that you have in any other small Iowa community.Both Mr. Miller and Mr. Matthews made my point about square footage requirements and should be better informed about them. If you don't understand space requirements, material costs or labor then you shouldn't on a building committee.I received the perceived 125 square feet from Superintendent Jay Jurrens, FCMG, Cardinal Construction and Gary Schwartz. Mr. Matthews is right; you won't find it on a web site. You need to call the head of School Facilities Development (a 30-year veteran named Gary Schwartz) in Des Moines to get this vital information. Jay should remember that all sources has been provided in previous articles.Superintendent Jurrens asked for help this past summer. Using the FCMG drawing we developed a plan to move 300 kids to the high school. I can multiply 300 kids times 125 square feet and it equals 37,500 square feet. That is the total square feet of class, hall, commons, offices, ect.At first Mr. Jurrens was excited at the 30 to 50 percent cost reduction, but that quickly went away. I was told by one board member that this plan didn't raise enough taxes or spend enough money.The $10.5 million dollar plan consisted of 28,000 square feet of classrooms, (300 square feet per class larger than FCMG) 9,500 square feet of hall, offices, entry, and mechanicals and a 7,500-square-foot gym.I consulted Cardinal Construction and Gary Schwartz as they are the most knowledgeable and have great reputations. They gave me the square footage and cost. Cardinal, with over 100 years of building schools, has done most if not all of NHHS buildings at some time. The average, if you want to know, is between 90 square feet and 130 square feet per student.This was a concise plan, but I don't think Mr. Matthews cared or was paying attention when we presented this. Cardinal couldn't present this plan as it would have conflicted with the current FCMG contract and could have resulted in a lawsuit. FCMG has a non-compete contract that NHHS refuses to get out of and FCMG would sue for $450,000 if terminated.FCMG's current drawing for the 5-8 addition has 22,000 square feet of classrooms. 23,100 square feet of hallways, commons, offices, and entry into that building. It also has a huge 15,900-square-foot gym, 16,000-square-foot large gathering space. 4,000-square-foot shop and 4,000-square foot of corridor connecting the 5-8 addition to the current high school. That is 85,000 square feet as listed in the Tribune.That is only 73.3 square feet per student for classrooms and 210 square feet per student of hall, offices and gathering spaces. That equals 283 square feet per student total. Those are facts from the cad drawing.Sorry I wasn't informed that we were going to get rid of a perfectly good kitchen/dining and turn it into a class room. It wasn't specified on the drawing. This is like knowing you need a 2,000-square-foot and then trying to convince the bank (i.e., taxpayers) that you also need 5,000 square feet to connect the bedroom, living area and kitchen for lack of planning. It's hard to justify the extra 40,000 square feet or additional $9 million in hallways, commons, large group and outside learning areas as it is a big deal. Wide open flat connecting space is cheaper to build, but that isn't reflected in the cost.  As listed in the Tribune $19.415 million for 85,000 sq ft equals $228.42 per square foot.That is a 14 percent increase in less than 6 mos. At least in my article I posted what the actual cost was. Someone needs to ask how much does this gym cost? Or the 5-8 addition alone? Or all the gathering space? Or the 4,000 sq ft shop. How much is FCMG getting? According to Superintendent Jurrens it is $15 per sq ft minimum or in excess of $1.275 million.That's just the new addition and doesn't account for the remodeling of the rest of the current high school. NO wonder why it's 85,000 square feet. And to think I performed this same service for FREE.Mr. Miller is right, population is still going down. Less people means less services needed. If you haven't noticed the economy isn't that good. Most of us received a hefty increase on health care premiums thanks to Obamacare. Land and property values declining. Property taxes have increased. NO new housing or district near the school for someone to build a new house. You can blame all of the other city problems on not getting a new school if you want. I'm one of many that has tried to help in this effort of starting small and having a vision for the next 50 years. By keeping you informed is how this might get done.How about this comprehensive approach? Start with the 5-8 grade addition for the asking of $7.5 million to $8 million. I wouldn't say that would pass, but many people should get behind this. The one cent sale tax will cover the annual payment as NHHS receives around $900,000 annually from that tax.. Yes, we've done the amortization schedule too. Many school districts in Iowa have done it this way. This would accomplish the first part of building a school as the district can already afford it.The city would then commit to providing water and sewer to the lots west of the current high school to accommodate the new housing district. New growth equals new taxpayers. Then economic development will create the 2-300 new private sector jobs that are waiting for this new school addition. Then we can move into phase 2 as we planned for expansion in the first addition. This would accommodate the PreK-4 students. This is the part of that 50 year plan I mentioned earlier. Many businesses and I think the mayor could even get behind this effort .. if they are serious.You need to convince the school board that it doesn't require raising taxes to get something done, it takes better planning.I can't tell you how long this will take. If expansion doesn't happen then the class size will keep shrinking. We would still have enough building space to move the PreK-4 students to the high school area at some time. For all of you that want all or nothing, you'll keep getting nothing if your vision is short term. As you can see this is a win-win for the community. Thanks for the feedback. It makes for great conversation. 

New Hampton Tribune

10 North Chestnut Ave
New Hampton, IA 50659
Phone: (641) 394-2111
Email: tribune@nhtrib.com

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