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School board closes in on OEC and $2.5 million price

SOLON– Before looking at a 75 percent review of designs and layout of the Outdoor Events Center (OEC) on Jan. 9, the Solon school board looked at options for financing its $2.5 million stadium update.
Tim Oswald, a managing director in the public finance group at Piper-Jaffray in Des Moines discussed the standard revenue bonding the district could undertake and presented three scenarios for paying it off.
He also said that a standard loan might be an option. “Banks have been very aggressive in the past six months,” he said. “We think we may have a scenario with banks that will provide a loan at lower rates than in bond markets.”
Oswald said it was possible that more than one bank could provide the money and called it a unique situation that could save a few thousand dollars.
“If that’s unsuccessful we’ll go the traditional bond route,” he said.
The board members unanimously approved signing an agreement to pursue the financing through Piper-Jaffray.
Shive-Hattery civil engineer John Fitch and architect Andy Iverson presented their latest tweaks of the OEC plan which included their opinion of the final costs. The projected price tag, which will be refined further as design and engineering work is finalized, came in at $2,458,700. The cost opinion came with a 10 percent contingency that could push the final price up to $2,704,570.
In the preliminary budget, the much-discussed Spartan team room building is estimated at $274,400 plus utilities, grading and sidewalks an additional $38,000. The visitor side team room, now designed to be connected to the visitor concessions building, would run $127,000. Both items are alternate bids on the plan. The other alternate bid, a parking lot, was priced by Shive-Hattery at $85,000.
Two ticket booths will run $35,000 apiece; the elevated press box behind the home-side bleachers is $130,000; and the home bleachers will run $310,000.
Shive-Hattery will present final specifications to the board Feb. 13, and pending approval, the bidding will begin Feb. 14 and close on March 1 for review by the board March 5.
Fitch said they still are confident of an Aug. 17 completion date. The Solon football team will play its first game Aug. 24, but a location has not been set.
Board member Dan Coons asked questions about security and public use of the field. Currently, he said, “anyone can get onto the field and track.”
“Is this going to be something that fourth-grade kids can go down and play football on?”
Superintendent Sam Miller said that would be something the board would decide between March and August. He suggested a committee be formed to decide when the district charges and doesn’t charge for field usage. Miller also mentioned the field could have video surveillance to protect the district’s investment.
Another committee Miller mentioned would decide on an OEC donor recognition area. He asked the board to consider the criteria to be recognized for donations.

School calendar
School board members also unanimously approved a school calendar that has Aug. 21 as the first day of classes for the academic 2012-2013 year. Graduation will fall on May 19, 2013, this year’s ceremony will be held May, 20.
High School Principal Nathan Wear spoke for the calendar committee.
The board requested a timeline to show how they could schedule more than one year in advance, asking Wear to consider a calendar with important dates set for up to three years in Solon’s schools.
Board members approved a plan to open bids for their annual external audit.
Superintendent Miller complained about the lag in receiving the report and said the district’s audit schedule could be sped up at a premium price.
A Muscatine firm named Kay Chapman is the district’s current auditor.
The board also heard a facilities report and recommendation from Wear to change the high school parking policy. Wear called the current policy hard to manage.
The parking discussion centered on fines, car registration and a better system for student parking.
At the end of the meeting, Activities Director Keith McSweeney distributed conference passes to the board members which would allow the seven school board members to attend any conference event with a spouse. He reminded the board and all staff that they could earn passes for themselves or family by working gate times during school events.
The board’s work session on Jan. 23 will cover standards-based grading.