School Board favors an SRO

The El Dorado Springs R-II School Board heard, at it regular Sept. 13 meeting with all present, that the $5.6 million addition to the school should be completed by Nov. 10 and the school should break even on the year. Board members present were Chad Whitesell, Benny Brower, Mark Burley, Terry Shepard, Josh Floyd, Greg Beydler and Darrell Eason – presiding.

In his construction report, Supt. Koca first hit the financial side. The project, so far, has cost $4.608 million for construction plus $436,000 in architectural fees. He said, “We only have about $692,000 left on the Branco contract. We have a little over $23,000 owed to Dake Wells on their contract. We still have the $54,000 on the bleachers. I have been told that they will be delivered by the end of this month. And the $22,000 for the side goals.”     

He said, “So basically right now, we have about $791,000 left of things we know we are going to have to buy with about $660,000 worth of bond funds available which means that our out-of-pocket has dropped down to $130,000, which is a long way from where we started at about $265,000. So it’s getting a little better all the time.”

“One of the things that is about to happen here is if you recall on the contract we had several line items with what they called forced amounts on them which basically was, ’We’re going to tell you we can do it for this price but we want to be sure we can cover it,’ so they added a forced amount to that line item. The idea is if they don’t use that forced amount for overages that money comes out of the contract and back to us. They returned $6,000 to us this month on unsuitable soil that was never used. So that is another advantage of the construction management at risk We are going to get quite a bit of that money back. Hopefully it will be enough to cover these side goals.”

“So, I’m feeling pretty good about the financing end of this. We’ve got a lot of stuff that we are going to have to purchase, though.” He mentioned tables, PE lockers, intercom equipment and “5,000 other things that are just part of finishing up the project.”

“As far as construction goes, got the over the ceiling section finished last week, they’ve dropped in the ceiling tile now in several of the rooms. They got the High School lobby out here tiled again finally. Painting is progressing.”

“We finally have a solution on the railing on the upper gym balcony. They worked all day on that getting the railing tightened up like it was supposed to be.  Little bit of work to do up top on the metal trim around the edge of the building.”

“And, of course, all this dirt work out here where the retaining wall goes. That could not have gone worse if they had tried. (To Steve Molz) What did we hit, two gas lines and two drain lines?” Steve said, “And the new electric conduit. Anything that was in the ditch, they found it and dug it up.”

Supt. Koca said, “So, it’s all on them. And they hard bid that job.”

“They are about ready to pour the retaining all with the Bulldogs in it. I think that’s going to be really cool looking. I’m looking forward to seeing it. “

“Gym floor, as we mentioned, maybe Monday night they plan to deliver it. The bleachers are coming at the end of the month. They don’t want to have to store those bleachers. They are pretty adamant about it. They want to deliver those bleachers and put them right in the building and not have to put them anywhere else.”

“So about the biggest thing for us to do now is polish the floor in the mezzanine and finish that up in there.  A few little details – wiring things, door closures.”

“We have scheduled a junior high basketball tournament in here sometime the week of Nov. 10 so I told them that is a hard date on that.  Everybody had assured me that will not be a problem.  We probably will not have the side goals in at that time, but we don’t need those to play a game.”

The board took up the school security proposal. Supt. Koca said, “I want to tell you right up front I would be very concerned about spending the money on it at this time. I don’t know that we really have it to spend. Maybe later in the year as the budget kind of transforms and we see where construction is going to leave us, we might want to revisit it. But my recommendation would be to walk away from that proposal at this time.”

Beydler asked if that is the only proposal.

Supt Koca said, “This is not something I went out looking for. They came to me. That’s why it came to you as quickly as it did.”

Beydler asked what the City of El Dorado Springs is going to do. Supt. Koca said, “The city is not going to do a darned thing until we actually commit to the project. (City Manager) Bruce (Rogers) told me, ‘You guys are going to have to make the first move.’ ”

Koca said the school would have the officer 85% of the time so it would bear 85% of the cost. “Bruce wants us to make a firm proposal before he takes it to his council.”

“We were planning to spend about $10,000 in this lobby to make it more secure entrance. We could spend another ten or twelve thousand dollars around campus. Where we are looking a $45,000 or $50,000 for an officer.”

“I kind of need some direction on where we are going to go from here.”

Eason said he wants to keep the door open.

Beydler said he does not want to give up on the project.

Members of the board said “Something is better than nothing.”

Beydler thought an SRO (School Resource Officer) could respond elsewhere in the school faster than an outside police presence.

Supt. Koca said, “Let me be sure I understand the board’s intention. Is it your intention moving toward an SRO? Is that what you guys want to have in place for school security? An SRO, a deputized member of our local PD, would be in our buildings when classes are in session for the year?”

All seven school board members nodded yes.”

Supt. Koca said, “Let me say this: Where are you going to put that officer? Which building are you going to protect? You cannot cover this district with one officer. You are only going to cover about a third of the district with one officer at any given time. What are the odds that he is going to be in the right place at the right time to respond. I don’t know. It could work out great. Most of these shootings are not well planned. Some of them are. “

He said with the quarter mile length of the campus, the response time of the SRO is not going to be significantly better than the local police, “Maybe a little bit.”

Beydler said, “I disagree. Having an officer roving around” would help.

Supt. Koca said, “There are side benefits. Having an officer building a rapport with the kids. Having a safe person for the kids to go to if they have a problem. Those things are side benefits that should not be over looked or discounted, certainly. I just struggle with the idea that one person is supposed to protect everybody on campus. It would be better. It would be better than nothing.”

Beydler said, “There is no fool proof way, but I think we should do what we can to provide protection for our students and staff.

Supt, Koca said, “I’m perfectly fine with that. And I’m certainly not discounting the need for some kind of additional security. I have got to think that at some point our state or national elected officials are going to act in some way to a way help us with this problem (school security).”

The board asked Dr. Theresa Christian to discuss the possibility of using some Title 4 money to help pay for school security.

Supt. Koca said he is pretty confident the school can break even this year financially. “But at the end of about four months we are going to have some hard decisions to make.”

The board heard that the Fall 2018 enrollment is 1,179. A year earlier the number was 1,152.

The board approved the request for bid or request for proposal for property and liability insurance.

The board reviewed and approved the FY 2017 Annual Secretary of the Board Report.

The board considered and adopted 19 mandatory policy updates (see related article.)