The DeLand-Weldon school district will start a $4.3 million upgrade of its buildings and parking areas this summer.
School board members on approved an installment purchase agreement at a special school board meeting Thursday (May 2) in order to get the work going. General obligation bonds will eventually be issued, probably later this summer. Those bonds would be paid back over 20 years.
The project list is lengthy, and includes the construction of secured entryways for both the high school and elementary school.
“Our safety is number one. Where we are located at in the county, we need secure entryways,” said School Superintendent Amanda Geary, noting the campus’ isolated location on U.S. Route 10 between DeLand and Weldon. “This has been needed for a long time.”
Also on tap are new roofs for each school.
“Our roofs have been leaking, the elementary one for a long time,” she added.
Work will also include a hard surface for the parking lot, along with better drainage. Geary noted that deterioration of the lot has become not only inconvenient,
but a safety issue when ice forms from standing water.
“When we host extracurricular activities, it’s just a hazard,” she added.
More parking will also be added during the project.
Since the payment of past working cash bonds is now off the books, Geary thought the project could be completed without impacting the real estate property tax rates.
The school board on April 25 approved working with Engie Services, which will use the design/build method to direct the construction. The school district will have input on the selection of contractors, said Geary.
“They will bring people in for us. They’ll include local people as well. That will allow us to work with people we like to work with, people we have worked with before. That’s one thing we like about this,” she said.
Largest project ever?
According to a Journal-Republican story in January of 2014, this will be the largest amount the district has ever borrowed at once for a project.
Five years ago, $1.7 million in health life safety bonds were issued to pay for the installation air conditioning, new windows and to repair exterior brick.
That was thought to be the most ever borrowed by the district to that point, including just $500,000 borrowed for construction of the 1958 high school building.