Construction Project being considered at Randolph Public Schools

RANDOLPH — Among the projects the Randolph School Board of Education is considering in future years is the replacement, expansion and joining of the existing Vocational Ag. buildings.

Built in the late 1960s, the two buildings are entering their 50+ year of use and together occupy a space of approx. 7,900 sq. ft.

They are in relatively good shape, but were not built to house the current equipment being used in the Voc. Ag program and the related school business, CardinalCam, said Supt. Jeff Hoesing. In addition, the fire alarm system will, at some point, require an upgrade, he said.

For the last three years CardinalCam, a school-based business, has enjoyed success throughout the state designing, manufacturing and finishing custom, high-quality products for customers using a variety of metals. The program teaches digital design using CAD, metal fabrication using plasma cutters, welders, slip rollers and presses, metal finishing using the powder coating process, customer service, invoicing and billing.

Randolph Schools is in the process of beginning a second school-based business in the Art program that would utilize a production graphics printer and vinyl cutter.

Using similar digital input found in CardinalCam, this large-format printing equipment would produce a variety of end-user products like banners, vinyl decals, yard signs, poster photographs and vehicle wraps. This program would incorporate the existing photo-digital class and teach skills such as graphic design, customer service and related business practices.

One concept under consideration is for the razing of the current buildings and replacing them with a free-span steel building of 11,000 to 13,000 sq. ft. The increase in size would allow more space for shop equipment. In addition, the Art program could be relocated to this new building, allowing the Art students regular access to the metals and woods labs plus share a common graphic design lab with CardinalCam.

Regarding construction, (which is a year or two away), the district’s building committee has narrowed it down to two options, Hoesing said.

One approach would be to build the building in two phases. This could be done by removing the smaller south Ag building and putting up a large free span building that would be approximately 100' wide (east to west) and 65' long. The gable-end north wall of this building could eventually be extended further north when the existing north Ag building would come down. The new building and existing north building could be connected with a simple breezeway structure since they would only be 6-8' apart.

“We would not attempt to "tie the buildings together" or use a common roof as that is somewhat problematic from a structural standpoint (one building is metal, the other masonry block) and, by one estimate, would add approx. $200,000 to the cost of this first phase,” Hoesing said.

Cost estimates for this first phase would be around $750,000.

Positive aspects of this idea are that it would require no bonding.

“We could “pay as we go” through the district’s building fund,” Hoesing said. “There would be no costs associated with purchasing bonds or interest payments.”

The Voc Ag program would continue during construction of both phases with just a few areas impacted. Once in place it would allow the Voc Ag program to expand from a very crowded metals shop into new area. The new building could also house the existing Voc Ag equipment when the time comes to take down the north building. The more "expensive areas" (like bathrooms) would not be part of the initial project as they are already located in the north building.

Hoesing said the downfall to this approach is that it will take longer to get to the final outcome of two programs in one building, each with their own student-run business.

“Some waste would be associated with building a wall and then having to take it down and move it as the building is expanded to its final size,” he said. “Lastly, the breezeway would not permit good student supervision if there are separate groups of students working in both the new and older labs.”

The other approach would be to remove both existing buildings and construct one large building all at once. The end result would be the same as the phased-in approach. Positive aspects of this idea are that it could be most efficient use of tax dollars as the entire building would be done at once with no stop-gap expense associated with phased-in construction. The end result is achieved all at once, but not necessarily quicker, as it would take time to build an adequate balance in the building fund. If the district doesn’t want to wait to build up the building fund balance, they could proceed with a vote of the board to bond the project.

Negative aspects of this approach would be that it’s not feasible to accomplish this type of construction without shutting down much of the current Ag program.

“We would also have to rent storage for existing equipment. Even with favorable weather and little construction material delays, demolition and construction could take eight months,” Hoesing said. “Lastly, possible bonding of the project includes costs that are not spent on the building.”

The school board and administration are still of one mind that the district should continue to study this project, Hoesing said.

“However, even with construction a year away, the financial piece of this project needs to be considered for this fall, as the 2020-21 budget is adopted in September,” Hoesing said. The district may begin to increase the building fund levy this September in anticipation of carrying this project out in a year or two. If the idea falls through, the larger balance in the building fund can always be used for other potential projects in the future and the district could stop levying into that fund for several years.”

Supt. Hoesing is recommending the district levy a minimum of $500,000 for this first year (receipted to the district in May and August of 2021). Using last year’s valuation, this would be approx. 7 cents (2020-21 valuation won’t be certified until Aug. 20th). For the last 3-4 years, the district has typically levied about $130,000 per year, (just under 2 cents) in the building fund.

At the same time, the district could drop the general fund levy for next year to help offset the building fund increase. The net result for all of this would be a total tax increase of approx. $200,000 (2.8 cents using current valuation) for the first year. Theoretically, a similar levy the second year (2021-22) would put the district close to having the funding to complete the entire project (but would not leave much of a building fund balance left over for other unforeseen projects).

Patrons are encouraged to contact Supt. Hoesing or any of the school board members with their opinions or questions.

They can also attend the Aug. 10 regular board meeting, the Aug. 25 budget workshop or the budget hearings planned for Sept. 14.

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