Phase One of our historic Student Investment Project focused largely on Eisenhower Middle School and new safe rooms, which account for $49,500,000 of the SIP. We have also been building the structures to efficiently, responsibly, and equitably disperse funding for the equipment, technology, and furniture to our 28 schools. Bond funds were not available until April of 2018, so we are not even a full year into this journey. EMS and safe room construction is well under way, and purchase orders for equipment are pouring in from the sites. Technology and furniture needs are also being mapped for several years by our district-wide committees. It seems like it has taken a long time, but in a district our size, it could not have gone much faster, responsibly.
In a recent report to the Board of Education, Crosslands Construction informed us that EMS is about a week behind schedule, but they can make it up later. I do not doubt them either, because when rain turned the site to slime, they built a road through the muck to keep working! Safe room progress is even better: we expect them to be completed by the end of this school year. Currently, Eisenhower Middle School is projected to come in at $2,440,882.99 over the original budget projections, primarily due to our current trade wars. Fortunately, safe rooms are under projections by $1,978,521.00. Together, all seven projects are $462.361.99 over the original projections – or 1% over the $49,500,000 originally planned for EMS and safe rooms.
We built in a much larger contingency for these budgets, so 1% above original projections is great news. Seven new construction projects running simultaneously is impressive, but to have the whole package within 1% of original projections is worth celebrating. And now that EMS and the safe rooms bids are this far along, we can start planning the next round of projects. First priority, of course, will be getting the remaining safe room started for Whittier Elementary, but $1 million has been set aside for that project already. Therefore, we are now ready for several of the smaller projects built into the bond.
We will bid high school tracks next month so we can get them resurfaced next summer. Gary Dees, our athletic director, did his best to get them done earlier, but they cannot be installed during winter. In addition to this, we have our first meeting with principals next week about updating our high school and middle school auditoriums. We will address sound systems first, with lights, curtains, and other auditorium needs as funding allows. The MacArthur High School auditorium air conditioning plans will begin, and we can finally begin repairs to Ron Stephens’ wall.
In addition to the building projects, the equipment portions of the 2017 SIP are well underway with all sites involved in the selection processes for furniture and technology. In addition to this, site-based bond committees have ordered thousands of pieces of equipment. At first these processes were slow, but I think the bottlenecks have been remedied. I cannot tell you how exciting it is to sign purchase orders for new uniforms, musical instruments, PE equipment . . . and library books! We also just ordered band uniforms for the first time in over a decade, but those funds were not bond funds. None of this would have been possible without Lawton-Fort Sill’s trust and support. I can promise that we will make some mistakes along the way, but the Board of Education and our staff are committed to delivering what you voted for, on time, on budget, and with every penny accounted for. You not only have the Board of Education to ensure that happens, but the Bond Oversight Committee and Site Bond Committees. We need as many eyes as possible on this to do it right. After all, it is your tax money and your school district.