CARSON CITY — Although the Carson City-Crystal Area Schools Board of Education originally approved plans to add to restroom facilities to Carson City Elementary School, questions over the timing and the cost of the project have proved insurmountable at this time.
The school board voted 6-1 on Wednesday to reject a bid for restroom renovations. Board President Tom Wilcox cast the lone dissenting vote.
The school board originally approved $150,000 for a small renovation project to the elementary school’s south pod. However, proposed changes in the project raised costs to $260,000, according to Tony Leininger, owner of CARMI Design Group in Edwardsburg.
“This is not what we expected and is not even close to what was put in the budget,” said board member Kriss Hummel. “We simply do not have extra money in the budget to do all the changes. It is not fiscally responsible to do this.”
Leininger said the cost changes were necessary when it was realized the original project would be insufficient and evolved from a remodel to a small renovation to a larger addition.
Board members discussed cutting back the project, postponing it or scaling back other construction projects to add additional funding to cover the restroom work.
“We had $150,000 in the budget for it and we need to work to keep in within that range,” Hummel said. “We need quality facilities and not be chintzy on it, but need to look on a better way to do it.”
“We approved it,” he said. “The (previous) board specifically said this was one thing they wanted done. We can delay it, but it is doable now, even with the changes we made.”
Leininger noted the school board has several different members now than when the original project was approved.
“The addition needs to be done in a way that makes you happy,” Leininger said. “You are saying you don’t have enough money to do the things I brought before you a few weeks ago and that you are not happy with the prior board’s decisions. We ask only that you give us good direction for the district so we know where we are going with it.”
He said often construction projects find “skeletons in the closet, a glitch in the original plans,” and have to change plans to accommodate it.
Increased costs about doing a project of this size in the winter and safety concerns about doing it in a school year, also made timing a concern for school board members.
“The previous board made some good decisions and we know they had tough decisions with tough finances,” said Superintendent Kevin Murphy, “My recommendation would be if it is voted down, you will be able to re-bid again, and that would buy you more time to think it over.”
The 6-1 vote against the bid means the project will come back to the school board, most likely with re-bidding in January or February, according to Murphy.