|Posted on 9/30/2016 7:18:00 AM.|
(Marion) -- The Marion ISD is celebrating its bond projects one sporting season at a time. The school district remains on track with rolling out its $11 million athletic bond issue. Superintendent Kelly Walters says the community got to witness some of those bonds in place at the start of this year's football season.
"We are on track. Of course, we're thrilled we were able to have our first home game two weeks back and have a second home game last week. Basically now at this point, the focus turns a little bit more into baseball and softball and tennis. All of those projects, the entire project is still on schedule to be finished out in January, late January. So we're very grateful for the dry weather. We've had some sun which helps us, because of course, all the rain was causing some delays just with the obvious construction issues -- being able to get in and out. They have already started working -- very diligently on prepping the baseball and softball field areas and the tennis court -- ground work (has) begun. We are moving on to the other aspects. Of course then when the season is over, we'll be able to finish topping the track. The buildings that are going to complete the football complex, the concession and restrooms and the middle school field house -- all of those items will be started as well, as soon as we can manage it," said Walters.
The Marion ISD, in the fall, successfully scored support for the bonds which allowed for upgrades to the baseball, softball, track, football and tennis facilities. The funds also allowed for improvements to the playing surfaces, lighting, a new press box, parking and other safety features.
Walters says the Marion ISD is on track to get these projects complete and ready for game time district wide.
"We're trying very hard to make sure that we're allowing the kids to play on the surfaces. That was our focus, was playing surfaces and safety and so some of the secondary pieces -- like those amenities -- are simply being put to the back burner until we can allow the kids to have the opportunity to play on the fields first. It's very much on track. We're hoping to have it finished out by January which is when it's scheduled to finish out. (Hope) the weather cooperates with us and we're not expecting anything unforeseen. We're looking and thinking that we're on target to have everything ready to go by the time that the different seasons begin," said Walters.
Despite that projects are taking shape and remaining on schedule, Walters says she believes she has to still defend the district's financial responsibility in overseeing the project. She says unfortunately, information released by other media outlets a few months ago indicated that the district was $1 million over budget. Walters says that information did not include the whole story.
"Unfortunately, the report that was put out to the public indicated that we were close to a million dollars over and a key aspect that was left out of that report was that there's $500,000 contingency money that was available. That, of course, immediately cuts that figure in half. Plus of course, you have to remember that when you get the numbers at the beginning of the project, it's a GMP (Guaranteed Maximum Price) which is the maximum price. So anytime you go into a project, of course your construction, your sub contractors are going to give you the worse case scenario. Then as you start doing the projects and you realize that you're going to have some savings here and there because things are not going to always max out on the price -- you're going to be able to do it for less. As the project has gone on, we're actually in pretty good shape. Now at this point, I cannot speak to whether or not we will be $1 over or what the figure is going to look like in the end, but it certainly is not, unfortunately, the bleak picture that was put out to the public which as I said was kind of unfortunately inaccurate from the get-go," said Walters.
When it's all said and done, Walters says the district is hoping to recoup some type of cost savings.
"We have the contingency which we still have quite a bit of that in tact and yes, the cost savings, because again, when you look at a GMP, they're giving you worst case scenario, highest value that it could possibly be. As you actually get into the project and things are working through -- those costs do not end up being as high as that GMP predicts. Therefore, you have those cost savings. So we're doing pretty well on those. We've been able to manage the project and watch to take any opportunity that we have to have some savings anywhere within the project without cutting back on the safety, the quality, the project itself," said Walters.
Prior to this bond, many of the athletic facilities in the Marion ISD averaged to about 22 years.