Nov. 18, 2022
Dear Students, Parents and Community Members,
In November of 2020, with the support of our community, the district was very fortunate to pass our first general obligation bond since 1974. As you may remember, one of the big benefits of passing a bond at this time was the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching program, or OSCIM. This program matches the passage of a bond up to an additional $4 million. This worked out well for our district and it allowed SWCSD#1 to receive an additional $4 million in funding for a total of $8 million for projects.
What we did not know, was how extremely frustrating planning and building would be during the height of COVID and afterwards, and what the challenges of inflation would bring to the projects. When talking with Straightline Architecture and Bremik Construction it was noted that this has been the most challenging and frustrating time to build that they are aware of in the last 25 years. Even now, there are supply chain and procurement challenges that have made starting our new building project difficult. To get ahead of this the new building kit was ordered roughly 11 months ago and delivered in October, so it would be ready for projects to begin.
Over the last few months, I have worked with our architect and construction company to get projects within the budget we have. Unfortunately, this has meant cuts in many project areas with the new kitchen/café/gym building taking up much more of the overall budget than anticipated in 2020.
The initial plan was to build a new kitchen, cafeteria and gymnasium that would cost approximately $6.0 million in total. Leaving about $2.0 million for deferred maintenance for our current buildings. With inflation we have recently learned that the new kitchen/café/gym cost will be closer to $7.5 million. After completing some projects already, and paying for pre-bond planning $7.5 million is what is left for all projects. Building the new kitchen/café/gym will leave no funding to address the many deferred maintenance projects that the bond committee discussed as priorities during their meetings, which the district initially had planned to complete.
As we look back at what the focus of the bond was at the beginning; the bond committee was very concerned about the state of disrepair that our current buildings are in. In order to address roofing including a roughly $350k roofing project for the Old District building, HVAC, door and security updates, renovate bathrooms, complete flooring upgrades, office space remodels, and classroom remodels, we need to reprioritize our bond projects.
The district is currently working on a plan to renovate our current kitchen and cafeteria located in the high school. We are told that we could tear the kitchen/café to the building wall and floor studs and do a total renovation for $500k including all new equipment and modernization of the kitchen and cafeteria. This will leave the district $3.0 million for deferred maintenance projects which include the list of items above.
With the building kit already delivered, by building the new gym and locker rooms only, we will still be able to provide:
- A nice space for Physical Education to happen for K-8 students.
- Our newly established Middle School, and Music program will have the updates needed to make the Old District building a comfortable learning environment.
- All students who participate in sports will be able to practice at once and still meet the goal of getting everyone home on the first activity bus, instead of having two practice times and students getting home very late.
This is certainly not where we thought we would be in regards to projects, but it is the reality of the funding we have and the ever-increasing costs of construction. We are hoping to see the groundwork and foundations starting after the winter break along with many deferred maintenance projects happening in the next year.
Thank you for your patience as I know we are all anticipating work to begin,
Ryan Wraught, Superintendent
South Wasco County School District #1