Buffalo High School’s new alternative program is on the move.
On July 10, the Johnson County School District board of trustees voted unanimously to relocate the alternative program to two classrooms on the Sheridan College in Johnson County campus in the Bomber Mountain Civic Center for the next school year. The move will ensure that the program can start at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year as previously announced, according to trustee John Manzella.
“I have heard a lot of positive comments about this new program, and I think it’s important for it to start at the beginning of the school year,” Manzella said. “The location really doesn’t matter.”
The move comes in the wake of a disappointing bid letting for renovations to the district’s learning center at 300 S. Spruce St. The learning center has been used for storage in recent years and was to house both the alternative high school program and the special education department’s Social and Emotional Education – or SEE – program.
The district received only two bids for renovations to the learning center, district Facilities Director Kim Glasgow said. Both bids topped $500,000, with the low bid coming in at $542,562. The project’s cost was originally estimated at roughly $380,000, Glasgow said.
Glasgow said the higher bids were likely due to the busy summer construction season when most companies already have months of work planned and are not in need of new jobs.
“There is a great possibility
that this project would come in cheaper if we rebid it this winter,” Glasgow said. “Right now, companies are either not sending in bids at all or are submitting bids that are way too high.”
Glasgow said that, for $500,000, the district could construct a new building to house the programs. Board members voted unanimously to deny the bids.
With the rejection of the bids, Glasgow gave the board a twofold recommendation: Renovate half of the learning center building so that the SEE program could be located there in the fall and relocate the alternative school to the civic center for the coming school year. The renovations of the other half of the learning center could then be rebid later in the year when prices could be more reasonable.
Ketner Construction, a Buffalo company that currently has a contract with the district to do indoor maintenance work, will renovate half of the learning center for the SEE program, Glasgow said. The school board committed as much as $65,000 to the renovations. If the project exceeds that amount, Glasgow will have to appear before the school board to ask for more funds. Glasgow said that the project will likely be completed before the start of the school year on Aug. 21.
Meanwhile, Superintendent Jim Wagner will work with Sheridan College in Johnson County Director Derek Andrews on a memorandum of understanding for use of the college space.
Trustee Mary McCorkle said relocating the alternative program to the civic center was an ideal example of community collaboration, but she also reminded board members that the situation was likely a temporary one.
“I think Bomber Mountain is a great interim situation” McCorkle said. “But we need to keep in mind that we don’t know what will happen with Bomber Mountain. The JOCO First board could decide to demolish that building tomorrow for all we know. So we should definitely keep in mind that we might need to expand the learning center to cover the alternative high school as well.”