Blanche, LCHS

Blanche community members were among the first to hear last week that Lashlee-Rich, Inc., has provided the Lincoln County Board of Education with a guaranteed maximum price of $17.077 million for the new Blanche K-8 school and $5.417 million for the new Lincoln County High School STEM wing, bringing the maximum for both projects to $22.49 million.

“Tonight is a special night for the Blanche community and the Lincoln County Board of Education,” said Thomas (Tommy) Stevenson, chairman, as he began the meeting Monday at the current Blanche School. “The board wanted to hold this special called meeting here at Blanche to allow all the stakeholders, parents and students to be a part of this occasion.”

With expenses to date and items not included in the contract, the total package for both projects comes to $25.86 million, he said, noting that’s $2.67 million over the cost estimate given by architect Gary Kromer, with Kaatz Binkley Jones and Morris, last year.

Given that the net bond proceeds amounted to $23.388 million for the two county school system projects, the system is expected to bridge the gap using the 177 education project fund that the Lincoln County Commission has designated for capital projects, as well as $1.6 million in funds the system has saved with the projects on the horizon.

“Noting our upcoming construction projects on the horizon, the board has been frugal this past year and accumulated funds to anticipate cost overruns or other items that could happen,” said Stevenson. “That fund as of Aug. 7, 2019, was $1,638,813. As stewards of taxpayers’ funds, we want to continue our partnership with the County Commission to ensure the completion of the projects as planned. We would ask their concurrence to commit at a minimum of the current level of funding of the 177 education projects fund for at least the ‘20-21 budget cycle.”

Board member Sammy Tucker put that in the form of a motion during Tuesday’s meeting, moving that the board accept the guaranteed maximum prices, contingent on the County Commission maintaining at least its current level of funding for the 177 education project fund in the 2020-2021 budget cycle. Board member Jennifer Haynes seconded the motion, and it was approved unanimously.

The Lincoln County Commission has called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, to consider action on the request.

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