NEOSHO, Mo. —
The Neosho Board of Education on Monday night approved bids for construction of Federal Emergency Management Agency storm shelters totaling $8.8 million.
The low bidder was Branco Enterprises Inc., of Neosho.
The total bid was 3.8 percent over the district’s estimate of $8.5 million. Tim Crawley, district operations manager, said an application has been submitted to FEMA to pay for the additional work.
The district’s portion of the total cost is about $6 million, Crawley said.
“We shot the moon and applied for everything federal we could,” Crawley said of the federal share after the meeting.
He said the district may receive word on FEMA’s decision in four to six weeks.
The projects are a two-story, 18-classroom addition at Neosho High School, for a total cost of $5.5 million; a practice gym and stage at South Elementary School at a cost of $1.9 million; and a $1.5 million classroom addition at Carver Elementary School.
Crawley said that if FEMA doesn’t pick up the additional cost, the district may have to rely on “value engineering” to cut the district’s cost.
Board member Steven Douglas said he didn’t like that idea.
“I will not support anything that cuts corners on this project,” Douglas said. “I want it done right.”
Also Monday, the board approved a three-year, lease-to-own agreement for 18 propane-fueled buses from Central States Bus Sales. The district’s cost is $1.4 million, after trade-in of district buses.
“When we did all the math, we saw significant savings,” Crawley told the board.
He said the district can protect itself from propane price spikes, as happened recently.
“If you pre-buy, you can get it as cheap as $1.30 per gallon,” Crawley said. “We’re also doing good things for the environment.”
District transportation director Jacque Faulkner said the propane buses can get a maximum of 4 to 4.5 miles per gallon, versus 7.5 for diesel buses. She said the propane buses have a range of around 400 miles on a tank.
Bus drivers had a chance to test-drive the buses, Faulkner said.
Crawley said the propane buses are quiet, compared with the noise diesel buses make. Board member Phil Wise asked if they could be too quiet.
“My concern is that the bus may be too quiet so that students don’t hear them coming,” Wise said.
Faulkner and Crawley said that situation could be avoided by the driver honking the horn when approaching a stop or a crowd of children, or speaking into the external speaker system on the bus.
On Superintendent Dan Decker’s recommendation, the board approved adding positions for two counselors, an elementary assistant principal and a district grant writer. The positions would add $241,513 in salaries and benefits to the district’s budget.
BOARD MEMBER JONATHAN RUSSELL, who is recovering from complications from the flu, again attended Monday’s meeting by telephone conference call.