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December 11, 2013

School board discusses DHS safe room project

DUNCAN — Duncan Public Schools is considering a bond issue for as early as 2014, to construct a safe room/ art building on the Duncan High School campus.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting, members of the Duncan Board of Education approved hiring PBK Architect for design and development, and CMS Willowbrook as construction manager for the project, pending passage of a bond issue next year.

“It would be a duel use building,” Horacio Gomez, PBK project manager, said. “It would be an art center with four classrooms. It would serve as a storm shelter for the student population.”

An estimate of what the project may cost was presented to the board. The cost was estimated to be about $1,199,192.

The building would be less than 5,000 square feet and would be able to hold up to 1,000 students. The design of the building would be a primary square shape with a designed exterior facade, which Gomez said would keep costs lower.

The interior would be exposed, as opposed to covered in dry wall, to give the building a unique, artistic look, Superintendent Sherry Labyer said. This interior design would also drive down the cost of the building construction.

The walls would be 8 inches thick and the roof would be a 6 inch slab. FEMA rated doors would be included, and debris walls could be added to increase security of the doors.

Labyer said this project would push millage up to 17.55 mills, where the February 2012 bond issue set Duncan’s millage. Currently, Duncan’s millage is 14.6 mills. Labyer said the millage would stay at 17.55 mills regardless if the school district chose a three-year or a four-year payoff.

The February 2012 bond issue was the last bond issue proposed and passed by the school district. The $19 million bond issue addressed renovation needs at the Duncan High School, including the construction of a new cafeteria and library, reconfiguring of space within the main building for more classrooms and office space, and the construction of a new front entrance and front facade.

She said the building, because of its size, could be used as a community shelter outside of school hours.

“That’s a discussion down the road,” Labyer said.

Another item the school board will discuss at a later date includes setting a date for a 2014 bond issue election. The date discussed most was April 1, which would have the school district filing in January.

Labyer said she didn’t think the month of March would be a good time for a bond issue because it wouldn’t give the school board, school district and community enough time to go over the bond issue.

The school board may choose to set a date for the bond issue during the next meeting.

“We have to be cognizant of any other elections happening at that time,” Labyer said about any possible date set for the bond issue.

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