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Schools adjust to tough times

David mirhadi

Concerned about rising construction costs, trustees of the Nevada Joint Union High School District are leery about using developer fees for upcoming construction projects.

Per a recommendation by Superintendent Maggie Deetz, the board’s 4-0 decision Wednesday means the district will pursue construction of Bear River High School’s $7 million performing arts and aquatics center using bond measure funds approved two years ago. Board member Dan Miller was absent for the vote.

If needed, the Bear River projects would get first priority to use developer fees for projects scheduled to be completed in 2004-2005.

“I’m recommending we use extreme caution” in spending money on developer fees for projects not scheduled next year, said Deetz in proposing the construction schedule.

Developer fees are paid to school districts on a per-square-foot basis by commercial and residential builders. For the 2004-05 fiscal year, the district is anticipating a beginning balance of just under $1 million in such fees.

Julie Hopkins, the district’s assistant superintendent for business services, is proposing $500,000 for construction of the “green room” at Bear River’s proposed performing arts center and replacement of the surface below Bear River’s brick facade, which has been in need of repair for several years.

The developer fee totals after the 2003-04 year are projections and could change depending on construction trends and the cost of building materials, such as the price of steel, which Hopkins said continues to rise.

Using developer fees to pay for synthetic turf at Nevada Union’s Hooper Stadium and at Bear River High School was not included in any of the district’s proposals.

The district had considered using developer fees to make bathrooms at Nevada Union High School compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to construct bleachers at J. David Ramsey Stadium at Bear River High School.

Those two projects, for the moment, are on hold.

Hopkins said she’s been informed by architects that school projects are typically coming in 20 to 30 percent over budget. In her projections to the board, that would mean the aquatics and performing arts projects would cost an additional $1.6 million, to be paid for from developer fees in 2005-06 if the board should choose to pursue them.

The district, according to her projections, would begin the year with just over $1 million in developer fees to use for construction projects.

“These are projections based on a whole lot of unknowns at this point,” Hopkins said Wednesday. The figures are fluid and could change over the next several years.

Developer fees can only be used to pay for new construction or repairs and cannot be used for instructional materials or salaries for teachers and staff.


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