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MONTGOMERY — The Barr-Reeve school board has taken the initial steps toward potentially starting a new building project. During Thursday night’s meeting the board approved a series of resolutions to begin investigating a new project, set up a reimbursement procedure from any bond sale for early expenses, consider a building lease agreement, and re-approve the formation of the building corporation.

The action to start a new project comes while a major construction project carried out over the last two years is winding down. “What we are running into now are a lot of things that we still want to address,” said Barr-Reeve School Superintendent Dr. Travis Madison. “We want to figure out those and on what timeline. When we did the original project, we wanted to keep it around a certain dollar amount and to get the priority things done. Now we are trying to be proactive and maybe take on some of those other things the best we can.”

The additional project would not be any expansion of the facilities. Instead it would focus on things like additional upgrades to the heating and air conditioning systems, some more renovations to the cafeteria and replacing a lot of the roofs on the building.

“There is nothing flashy here like a new gym or media center,” said Madison. “These are necessities, things we can’t let get away from us. We are trying to assess the need and look at the potential costs.”

Madison says very preliminary estimates have the roof costing around $800,000, the cafeteria around $250,000 and the HVAC work could run in excess of $1 million.

Still, school officials believe they may be sitting in a position to get the work done without putting a lot of burden on the taxpayers.

“Right now, interest rates are very low,” said Madison. “I think with those low rates we can spread it out over several years and do it at a reasonable cost to the taxpayers and still keep our tax rates low. Our board is very tax rate conscious and do not want our rate to get out of our comfort zone.”

The school board is expected to make a decision on what work they will do yet this fall.

Meanwhile, school officials say the current building project is winding to a close. “We are getting down to the punch list items,” said Madison. “We have held off on the finishing work inside the building while the students have been in class. There is a long list of a lot of little things to wrap up. We are in the home stretch and it is looking good.”

The last of the work on the interior is being scheduled for fall break that runs Oct. 12-16.

School officials are hoping to have a ribbon cutting and open house sometime in the future.

Tax Rate ready to advertise

The school board also took a number of steps for its budget for the coming year. For advertising purposes, the board approved an $11 million dollar budget. “That is much higher than we expect to spend,” said Madison. “We just put that large number out there in case there is an unexpected drop in our assessed valuation.”

The proposed budget includes $5.8 million in the education fund, $2.9 million in the operations fund, $1.379 million in debt service, and $1.1 million out of the referendum fund. The advertised tax rate is $1.5481 per $100 assessed valuation but school officials do not expect the final tax rate to be close to that amount.

“Last year our tax rate was 89 cents, and when this is finished, I expect it to be around 85 to 95 cents,” said Madison. “That is the sweet spot where we are really trying to keep it.”

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