With bonds approved, Rangely board moves ahead on improvements

RANGELY — Thanks to the support of voters, who approved a $15 million school bond initiative during the general election, Rangely School Board members are going ahead with the building improvement project.
The board met Nov. 10 in its first meeting since the Nov. 4 election. Needless to say, board members, as well as school staff, were happy.
“They were elated, and they still are,” said Superintendent Dwayne Newman. “Everybody is real excited about where we’re headed.”
It didn’t take long for the board to start the process moving forward.
“The board passed a resolution, which legally allows them to issue the bonds and get those bonds sold,” Newman said after the Nov. 10 meeting.
The board took quick action, approving the bond resolution less than one week after the election.
“We’re trying to beat the market, because we think there will be a higher demand,” Newman said. “We’re shooting to have the bonds sold and in the school coffers by Dec. 15.”
Newman said there was good reason for the board to act quickly.
“What happen is, schools all sell these bonds (at the same time) and, all at once, the market is flooded with these bond offerings,” Newman said. “So we can get a better deal the sooner we get them out there and we can offer them at a rate that is more favorable to the school district, and there won’t be all of these other ones for the bond investors to choose from.”
Newman said the school district already has bids out for non-construction items, such as buses and computers.
“All we’re waiting on on this end is to have the money in the bank,” Newman said.
As part of the $15 million school bond initiative, the Rangely School District is buying three new buses.
“They run about $100,000 (each),” Newman said. “We’re replacing two buses that are ‘88 models and one is an ‘89 model, so you’re looking at buses that are almost 20 years old or older.”
Newman said the school district will not use a project manager for the non-construction purchases.
“We’re trying to do what we can in-house,” Newman said. “So we save that percent and a half the project manager would get. It doesn’t make sense for the district to have the project manager buy computers, for example. Same thing with the maintenance (purchases). My maintenance guy knows what he needs and what will serve the district well.”
To oversee the construction part of the school improvement project, the board is going to use the Blythe Group, a project management company out of Grand Junction.
“We are going to be hiring the Blythe Group,” Newman said. “The contract is not done and has not been approved, but the contract is at the attorney’s. We’re going ahead with the understanding they are our selection.”
The Blythe Group did a facilities audit of the Rangely School District’s buildings last April.
“That’s what we based all of our needs assessments on,” Newman said. “So the board and the Blythe Group have a history of working together.”
As the project manager, Newman said the Blythe Group would “coordinate all of the activities and facilitate all of the logistics” for the construction.
“They will find a general contractor and, together, do the design and map out the actual dates when things will go out to bids,” Newman said. “They will evaluate the bids and come back to the board with recommendations. Then they will oversee, do the quality control part of the projects, and advise the board.”
The project manager’s fee will be paid out of the bond funds.
“They actually do architectural services, so we will have them do that,” Newman said. “They will find an engineer to do any engineering drawings we need.”
Newman said the board is intent on using the bond money for only those improvements or purchases outlined in the proposal that was put to voters.
“I will say, the board did reiterate they were only going to use what we need,” Newman said. “There were discussions about what if we don’t need that much and how do we pay it back, and that we do it most efficiently.”
The bonds are scheduled to be repaid in 10 years, based on revenue from property taxes.
“What I understand is, you can’t pay them off early,” Newman said. “So, what you do, you issue the $15 million bonds and then, basically, you put whatever you don’t need in a reserve. Then when you have enough in reserve, you don’t need to collect taxes any more, and you pay the bonds directly out of this reserve fund.”