OFSD New HS Update Feb 2022

OFSD New HS Update (Feb2022)
Posted on 02/02/2022
Construction

ORCHARD FARM SCHOOL DISTRICT

– NEW HIGH SCHOOL UPDATE –


The Board of Education has scheduled a special board meeting for February 10, 2022 at 7:00 pm at the Orchard Farm Early Learning and Administration Center.  At this meeting the board will review construction bids for the new High School, with the intent to award a construction contract. These actions will take place during open session.



History 


Since 2004, student enrollment in the Orchard Farm School District has increased in 15 of those 17 years. That growth has been at an average of 4% over the past 7 years, including a high of 8.3% growth for this current school year. As student enrollment continued to grow year after year, available classroom spaces became harder to find. The District matched the increase in student enrollment with the construction of a new Early Learning Center (2015), additions to Discovery Elementary and the High School (2015), and additions to the Middle School (2019) and again to the Early Learning Center (2019). Additional infrastructure upgrades were done along the way, including significant enhancements to security, the Water Treatment Facility on the Main Campus, HVAC replacements, restroom renovations, all-access playground upgrades, and more. 


Through collaborative planning between the Board of Education, District Administration, staff, and the community, through initiatives like the Future Ready Committee and Strategic Vision Committees, the District’s facility planning has allowed for continued high-quality programming and services. 


As the District planned for future growth, in 2018, we purchased the roughly 100 acres off Hwy B to serve as both the site for the New High school, as well as a site for a future elementary school. The location, and opportunity to share some infrastructure makes it an ideal site. Having a 100 acre City Park as neighbors will be an added bonus.



High School Financing


In January 2020, based on market/labor/supply conditions at that time, Hoener and Associates, the District’s architect firm, estimated that the base bid for construction of a new high school would be $55M. 


In June 2020, District residents approved a $.55 tax increase to fund the construction of a new high school.



Q:  What has changed?

A:  Construction Costs


As we have all seen, market/labor/supply conditions have changed considerably since January of 2020. Anticipating an increase to the original construction estimate, District Administration and the School Board took the following actions:

 

  • Completed the grading package on the New High School site separately. This allowed the project to stay on schedule, while also attempting to give the market some time to stabilize. 

  • Developed a financial plan to fund the (anticipated) increase in construction costs for the new high school. This plan will be reviewed again prior to the award of a construction bid on this project.



Q:  What has NOT changed?

A:  The need for space for our students. 


As stated earlier, student enrollment in the District continues to increase as new homes continue to be built in the district at a rapid pace. Last year, the district grew 8.3% in new students. 


In fact, due to the significant student enrollment growth, some of the future planned phases of the new high school will now likely be needed in the initial build. 


Currently, there is just one unoccupied classroom available in the entire school district. While it’s still two years away from completion, the construction of a new high school will open up classroom spaces at every grade level from Kindergarten through 12th grade. 


Without the new high school, the growing district would have needed to either:

  1. Increase class sizes to accommodate the student growth 

  2. Add more classrooms or temporary classroom trailers to existing campuses. 



Summary


Due to conservative fiscal planning of the Board of Education over a sustained period, the District is positioned to execute a financial strategy that will allow us to construct the new high school, even at a cost higher than originally estimated without any significant impact to current or near term operations. We remain excited about the opportunity to continue to deliver high quality education to the families in our community. 


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