After an intermission due to record construction costs, construction of sports facilities at Jefferson City High School is scheduled to begin later this fall.
The Jefferson City School District has been planning the construction of sports facilities at JCHS and Capital City High School since 2017, but the plan has changed several times since then.
When the bond issue to build Capital City High School and renovate and expand Jefferson City High School passed in 2017, the district did not have enough money to build playing fields at CCHS. areas in both high schools.
Originally, the Adkins Stadium at JCHS was to be shared between football teams from the two high schools, and CCHS would initially only have training grounds. For other sports, athletes from both schools competed and trained off campus.
For example, softball teams from the two high schools competed in Riverside Park, but JCHS athletes would have to train at CCHS if CCHS were to have a game there. However, that plan changed as the division of the fields “turned out to be very taxing,” Jason Hoffman, who at the time was CFO and COO, said at the board meeting of December.
“It just doesn’t work,” he said at the meeting. “I think they even had games in Capital City even though they didn’t have the amenities. We moved to portable bleachers to play football. So sharing facilities, we learned. very quickly, does not work very well. “
In 2017, the district saw the first drawing of the CCHS sports facility, by Schematic Design, which included only one multi-purpose training ground. In May 2018, after the district had already sent out requests for bids for excavation with a single practice area, district leaders decided that one area was not ideal and worked with the director of the area. risky construction and architects to develop a new design. They then presented a second excavation offer.
The new design included a soccer field right next to the soccer field to allow the district to put a shared grandstand between the tennis, soccer and baseball fields. It only included four tennis courts and no observation towers. At this point, it was bare training grounds.
However, when the project was put out to tender, the district discovered that it was saving money. The contractor at risk, Nabholz, has put in place indemnities in certain areas to guarantee a maximum price. Since he did not use all of these allocations, this money returned to the district, allowing the district to add lights to the baseball and softball fields and to four additional tennis courts with lights, an observation tower and a tennis hitting wall.
He also completed the baseball and softball field additions needed for use as a training ground, such as bull pens, and added turf to Adkins Stadium and football, soccer and baseball fields. of CCHS. The district was able to make just over $ 9 million in additions outside of the construction contract, within the guaranteed maximum price of the project.
“We didn’t have to increase (the price) as a change order,” Hoffman said in December. “We were just able to complete them because of the way the process worked. “
The district always knew that the CCHS training grounds were meant to be eventually ready for competition. During the J + C bond campaign to build CCHS and renovate JCHS, Superintendent Larry Linthacum stated in all of his presentations that he wanted to have the same opportunities at both high schools, so the district had to try to find a place where they could put baseball / softball, tennis and soccer fields within the JCHS campus.
In 2018, the district planned to cut the rock face between the YMCA and Adkins Stadium to make room for the grounds on the JCHS campus. There is a stream running through this site around the driving range so the district should have removed the driving range. It would have cost around $ 6 million and left no room for parking or changing rooms, Hoffman said.
But then the May 2019 tornado damaged homes in the neighborhood by Jefferson City High School, and some neighborhood residents contacted the neighborhood to purchase their property. The district then sent a letter to all owners in the area asking them to contact the district if they were interested in selling their property.
The district purchased and recently completed demolition of approximately 50 properties in an area bounded by Stadium Boulevard, Jackson Street, Oberman Place and Adams Street, where it now plans to install the land.
The district had planned to borrow money for sports facilities and buildings to deal with overcrowding in kindergarten through eighth grade at the same time, but the overcrowding plan was suspended. The original plan was to issue a bond issue to voters for buildings to alleviate overcrowding in Kindergarten to Grade 8 classrooms in April 2020, but district leaders put the plan on hold to give them more time. to evaluate the solutions.
JC Schools now plans to issue a bond issue to the board of directors and voters in April 2022. The district can borrow $ 80 million without raising the tax rate, and it will likely have to borrow that full amount.
The district had planned to borrow $ 100 million at the same time – $ 80 million for school buildings through a general bond and $ 20 million for sports facilities through a lease-purchase, or a certificate of participation, a type of financing where an investor purchases a share of the rental income from a program rather than the bond secured by that income. Participation certificates are guaranteed by income from leases and commonly used by public municipalities. Sports facilities will still be funded by a COP of $ 20 million.
The district will budget $ 1.5 million per year from the capital projects fund over the next 20 years.
While the district was still not ready to move forward with the overcrowded K-8 bond issuance last year, it announced in December that it was ready to move forward with the sports facilities as this would allow the district to take advantage of historically low interest rates. and that would allow the sports facilities to be completed faster instead of waiting for the other project to be completed.
In December, the Board of Education approved the district’s proposal to go ahead with the addition and completion of competitive sports facilities at the two high schools with the goal of starting construction in May. and put them into service in time for the 2021-2022 school year. .
“It was a very tight schedule,” Facilities Manager Frank Underwood said in June. “Over time, seeing where we were at and what it was going to take was quite a business. It finally became a reality that it wasn’t going to happen.”
The district then expected excavation to begin in late June and most construction to be completed by January – but construction costs have caused setbacks.
The initial estimated cost of the projects was $ 21.4 million. This cost includes the facilities of both schools and the addition of a road behind Thomas Jefferson Middle School, as this project was included in the same contract.
However, the cost has become higher than expected.
“It has become clear in recent months that construction and material costs are at an all time high, which is something being seen across the country,” said Dawn Berhorst, interim chief operating officer , earlier this month. “This forced us to look for ways to reduce costs without compromising the quality and functionality of the finished project. “
By delaying construction, the district still hopes to meet the $ 21.4 million budget.
Excavation of the JCHS sports facilities is expected to begin shortly and most of the construction is expected to be completed by mid-2022.
Jeff Schnieders Construction installed erosion control, stripped the southwest corner of the site between Case Avenue and Stadium Boulevard, and hauled over 100 loads of backfill from another site.
The district’s grading permit allows it to carry additional loads if needed until September 6, but no further work can take place until then until the permit is issued.
The site plan is being finalized and the district is waiting for the city council to approve the release of the rights-of-way on the streets.
“The city told me it would like two weeks to revise before issuing the grading permit,” Underwood said. “The grading permit can be issued as soon as the release of the rights of way is approved by the council. We have been told that the release of rights of way will go to city council on September 7.
The council will seek a suspension of the rules in the hopes of discussing and approving it in one meeting, he said.
“That being said, we hope that the grading permit will be ready for issuance by September 8,” he said.
The city has approved road closures on Case Avenue, Union Street, and Oberman Place between Jackson and Adams streets, and the district has set up temporary barricades in hopes of preventing students from developing traffic patterns on those streets. , Underwood said.
JCHS construction will include: a baseball / softball field with dugouts, reliever pens, batting cages and bleachers; a newsroom, concessions, toilets and storage facilities to be used between fields; a soccer field with lighting and bleachers for the house and visitors; a tennis complex with eight tennis courts and a pavilion with restrooms, concessions, storage and observation deck; and the elevation of the visitor bleachers at Adkins Stadium.
Since the groundwork for the additions to the Capital City High School athletic facilities has already been laid, this project will not require as much preparation, such as excavation and demolition. A timeline for the CCHS project is unlikely to be available until the bids for the subcontractors are released this fall, Berhorst said.
Construction of the CCHS will include a press room, bleachers for home and visiting teams, concessions, washrooms and changing rooms for use between football and soccer fields; dugout canoes, a press room, concessions, washrooms and storage areas at the baseball / softball complex; and event parking adjacent to soccer and football fields and near tennis courts.