With one member calling in to vote by phone, the West Franklin USD 287 Board of Education convened this past Wednesday night for a special session to reconcile bond issue building costs projected to be nearly $1 million over budget.

“The projected cost previously presented by Hansen Design and Mar Lan Construction was estimated at about $900,000 over budget,” according to the meeting minutes. “Meetings have been held with patron committee representatives, administrators, teachers, coaches, the board president, Hansen Design and Mar Lan Construction to arrive at the final cuts/add alternates presented at this board meeting.”

The board, district administration and construction representatives cut the budget overages through a combination of item deduction and interest accrued on bond issue money. The funds are being allocated from a $13 million bond issue passed by West Franklin voters last year for upgrades to the middle school and high school in Pomona, Williamsburg Elementary and Appanoose Elementary to provide more usable space and make the learning environment safer. The final vote was 434-380, according to Herald archives.

Despite the large dollar amounts discussed, the process was fairly routine, board member Deely Sims said.

“They were mainly going over dollar amounts,” Sims said. “The administration of the school went through and met with all parties involved, got their opinion on what they thought they could downsize on, and what they thought they couldn’t live without. They went through the reasoning behind what they are doing.”

During the meeting Jerry Turner, USD 287 superintendent, along with Gale Lantis and Robert Hansen, explained and justified the decision to deduct or make an “add alternate” each line item. Many of the items deducted will be bid as an add alternate, thus allowing them to be added back in to the project should the project bids come in lower than the projected costs, according to meeting minutes.

“There weren’t really any ‘tough decisions’ being made at this point [in the process,]” Sims said. “These are all just estimated numbers — they still have to send them out to bid. Once they go out to bid, and we get the actual numbers are going to be, that is when the ‘tough decisions’ are going to come about, if there are any.”

Despite the cuts, the project is nearly $120,000 over budget. Interest on the bond money should make up the remaining difference.

“Mr. Turner explained that the district will receive approximately $340,000 in interest from the bond money that is currently in a money market account,” meeting minutes said. “$140,000 of this projected interest is ear-marked for the project, but part of the remaining $200,000 could also be used toward the project deficit.”

Once all the paperwork is in order, the board and school are ready to break ground sometime this summer, Sims said.

“We are excited to be moving forward on the project,” she said.