Chris Collins
The Baker City Herald

The Baker School Board is considering asking voters to approve a $10 million bond to fund school improvements in a May 2020 election under a plan presented by consultants Tuesday night.

The bond would be paid off in 10 years at an estimated rate of 88 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Superintendent Mark Witty said the plan has not been finalized.

“That is where they land now,” Witty said of the Board. “Until they make a resolution and vote on it, there is room for adjustment.”

The District is working to devise a plan that would be more palatable to voters than the $48 million, 30-year bond measure that would have been paid at a rate of $1.97 per $1,000 of assessed value that was defeated by a wide margin in the November 2018 election, Witty said.

The superintendent said some people he’s talked to who opposed the last plan have told him they would support a bond that was a shorter term, less money and called for remodeling existing buildings rather than building a new school, which was included in the proposed $48 million proposal.

Amber VanOcker, with the Boise firm LKV Architects, and Cassie Hibbert of the Wenaha Group project management and consulting firm, returned to Baker City with a revised plan for the Board to consider during Tuesday’s work session.

The two, along with Scott Rogers, also of the Wenaha Group, presented several scenarios during an April meeting with the Board.

The latest -— the $10 million bond to paid over a 10-year term — also would include a $4 million state matching grant and $2 million to be contributed by the District to pay for school improvements totaling $16 million.

The plan was part of the April presentation, with a few adjustments.

It calls for realigning school buildings to make better use of existing space and includes districtwide safety and security improvements, energy efficiency upgrades and includes an allowance for “renovation unknowns” at each building, VanOcker and Hibbert told the Board.

Brooklyn School, which currently serves students in kindergarten through Grade 3, would be remodeled for K-2 students at a cost of $1, 383,311. The improvements would include a new restroom addition and reconfiguration of the administrative offices and entryway.

South Baker School, which currently serves Grades 4-6, would house Grades 3-4 under the plan. Remodeling at that building is estimated to cost $697,471, which would include reconfiguration of the administrative office and entryway and an addition of 28 parking spaces in a lot near the railroad tracks.

Grades 5-6 would be moved to the current middle school, known as the Helen M. Stack building. Improvements at that site are estimated at $4,487,993. That cost would include construction of a 5,100-square-foot stand-alone cafeteria to be built on the property for a cost of $2,567,076.

At this time, seventh- and eighth-graders eat lunch, which is transported to the school daily, on the balcony level of the gymnasium at the southwest end of the building.

Other improvements call for reconfiguring the historic Fourth Street entry for the administrative area and main entry of the building, modernizing the locker rooms and replacing windows with energy efficient new windows at historic height to allow more daylight into the classrooms. Exterior upgrades also would include minor landscaping, fencing and sidewalk repair.

Seventh- and eighth-graders would move to Baker High School. Improvements to the building to accomplish that goal are estimated at $7,242,140.

Those costs include a Grade 7-8 science classroom addition, reconfiguring the entry for safety, security and visibility, library and special education area upgrades, a locker room addition for Grades 7-8 and modernizing the existing locker rooms.

Safety, security and energy efficiency upgrades and a contingency for other renovation unknowns are estimated at $2,189,085.

See more in the May 15, 2019, issue of the Baker City Herald.