CEDAR FALLS — Cedar Falls Community Schools’ officials are laying the groundwork for a bond issue referendum to build a new high school.

The Board of Education Monday approved a design services letter of understanding with INVISION Architecture of Waterloo for “pre-referendum planning.” That work is expected to be completed by next summer, with a vote put on the ballot in late 2018 or early 2019.

Superintendent Andy Pattee noted when a $118 million bond issue that included construction of a new high school failed three years ago, “we heard that our community needed more clarity” in the plan. The design work that will get underway in the coming weeks is intended to give voters those “more concrete” details for the referendum.

Voters have since approved other components of the defeated plan, including construction of a new elementary school and upgrades at two others.

Brad Leeper of INVISION said the primary architectural team will come from the company. David Jakes Designs also was recommended as a consultant due to Jakes’ experience as an educator. Preliminary discussions with civil, mechanical and electrical engineers also are a possibility.

“We’re very interested in costs, and we’re going to bring a construction manager on board,” added Leeper. That company, which still needs to be chosen, will provide input on pricing, sequencing of the project and construction.

Leeper said there will be tours of other school facilities as a vision for the project and plans are developed.

Pattee said the district’s facilities committee will be brought back together to be part of the process. Members of the school board and others in community also will be included. “I think the most important part would be to have broad representation across our community,” he noted.

District officials have “already met with some of our key community leaders” about plans, said Pattee. “We’ve been working with multiple groups and subgroups just to start that dialogue.”

Services for a full schematic design on the project “would be approximately $300,000,” according to the letter submitted by Leeper. “The work plan currently shows an estimated amount of $150,000 for the pre-referendum work. This work will generally include a broad schematic design along with town hall meetings that engage the community.”

Board member Jeff Hassman questioned if the pre-planning adds another layer of cost. “This isn’t money that we’re going to spend twice?” he asked.

Pattee assured him that wouldn’t be the case. “Anything that’s done in phase one is not going to be done in phase two,” he said.

The letter of understanding was approved 6-0 with board member Jenny Leeper abstaining. She is married to Brad Leeper.

Board members also approved substantial completion of the North Cedar Elementary School portable classroom relocation project. Cost was $138,653 to move two trailers from Orchard Hill Elementary School and install them at North Cedar as construction gets underway at the school. The total was $16,243 over budget.

“We did have two change orders that pushed us over our budget,” said Doug Nefzger, the district’s chief financial officer. One was related to removal of a canopy on the south side of the school to get the portables in place, costing roughly $9,500. Movers had planned to bring them across the playground, but he noted that it was “very wet” and they were afraid of getting stuck.

The other involved building a second ramp leading up to the portables at a cost of about $6,700, which was included as a safety measure. “I think they were both well justified,” said Nefzger, of the change orders.

In other business:

Clocks were presented as a gift to retiring board members Jim Kenyon, Susan Lantz and Doug Shaw. They have served for 23, 12 and four years, respectively. Their replacements will be seated at the next board meeting.

The board cast its vote for Dick Vande Kieft as the Director District 7 representative on the Central Rivers Area Education Agency. The seat represents Cedar Falls along with the Denver and Janesville school districts.

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Staff Writer

Education reporter for the Courier

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