Discussion continued at Creston School Board meeting Monday, when the board decided to build the new bus garage at the former Area Education Agency site west of Creston High School.
The former AEA site was destroyed in the tornado last April.
Boardmembers Ron Dunphy and Rich Flynn explained their points of view using a map set up on an overhead projection of the high school and elementary/middle school campus.
At the current site north of the high school, the issue of safety is on many minds. The road in front of the original bus barn caused problems because it was difficult to see around the curve, and could have caused accidents.
“In my mind, from the time this discussion started, it was about safety ... and I don’t see that we’re going to fix that safety problem at the AEA building when we can improve it here (at the current site),” said Dunphy.
Dunphy suggested moving the building 20 feet west of the original site, or possibly south, because the original infrastructure is still there, except sewer.
At a special board meeting in November, Dunphy discussed what it would take to build the garage at the AEA site.
“First of all, I don’t think we have a clue what it’s going to take to prepare that site,” Dunphy said. “And if we put the bus barn there it’s not just about preparing 300 feet of depth to place that building, we’re talking about extending access to it clear over to our property ... I don’t know that it works with the AEA, but my thought is no, don’t use it.”
At the former AEA site, located at 1405 S. Lincoln St., there are many issues.
First, the building must meet fire codes by having fire walls built within it. Second, a wash bay for buses is needed to keep buses clean and prevent safety issues.
Just as important as safety are the aesthetics of the school campus.
“The first time after the tornado I was working at the high school on one of the projects that Gary Briley asked me to do,” said Flynn, “and I looked up towards our new (elementary/middle school) building and (said), ‘Wow, that is neat.’”
Flynn said he would like to see the bus barn moved to the former AEA site for safety reasons and because he likes seeing the school campus open.
Currently, some buses go north to the elementary/middle school in the afternoon while the rest go south to the high school. In the morning and afternoon, however, all the buses must make an extra trip through the high school parking lot to reach the bus barn. Moving the bus barn would cut back on 13 buses driving through the high school lot twice a day.
There were other suggestions as well, such as purchasing the land for sale surrounding the elementary/middle school or trading land with Southwestern Community College. Neither of those options were attractive to the boardmembers.
Dunphy suggested moving the building slightly west or south of the original site to improve safety at the curb, while maintaining the infrastructure.
Making a final decision was getting down to the wire for the Creston School Board in terms of cost and time.
“Until we pick out a site and say we’re going here, or here, or where we’re going, we really don’t know what it’s going to cost us,” said Flynn.
Creston Schools interim Superintendent Chuck Scott said he spoke with Tom Stockdale, Vice President of Estimating and Pre-Construction with TC3, and Stockdale explained that after a decision has been made, the construction company will need two months for drawings and bid documents and to get bids back in, and then to expect six months for construction.
Creston Schools will receive $400,000 from insurance and will have to pay the remaining amount for the building.
The bus barn will cost $70,000 to build at the AEA site. It will also cost $230,000 for the building to be in an east/west orientation, or $297,000 in a north/south orientation.
To place the garage at the original site would have cost $157,000.
“That $70,000 is in addition to the metal building as described and that we’ve looked at for a long time,” said Dunphy.
Dunphy said the $70,000 would include things such as building a masonry wall, utilities and asphault removal.
Boardmember Rick Fyock motioned to locate the bus garage at the former AEA site, then ammended his motion to include an east/west orientation of the building.
Flynn seconded Fyock’s motion.
The board voted and the motion carried with a 3-1 vote. Dunphy voted no.
In other Creston School Board news:
• Board policies 6.42, 6.49, 6.50 and 6.26 are all approved.
• Early retirement was approved for Marilyn Bohnker, elementary vocal music; Cheryl Crall, seventh-grade reading; Vickie Green, third grade; Sandy Harris, family and consumer science; and Larry Otten, Creston Middle School principal. All board members except Dunphy voted yes. According to Dunphy, “I don’t believe in enticing people with money to retire.”
• Action for building security was discussed, but nothing was voted on.
• Technology update was discussed, but nothing will be presented until March.
• It was suggested to add the position of special populations director at the elementary/middle school. The suggestion was informational and will be discussed more fully at the next meeting.