The Preston School District finances are in order, said Brad Nielson, the district’s new financial manager. District trustees reviewed an audit of district finances he prepared during the October school board meeting.
"Fund balances are positive. Things are looking good for the district,” said Nelson. The district has a reserve fund in place and is also planning how to best meet its obligations in regard to utilizing the plant facility levy patrons provided the district.
To do that, the district is exploring two ideas to proceed with district construction projects. The first is to collaborate with the West Side School District and the Malad School District to hire someone to manage construction within the district. this function was filled by the late Brian Mendenhall, who was the financial manager for both the Preston and West Side school districts until his unexpected death last summer.
"Mendenhall had that scope and sequence on construction. I don’t know how. Mr. (Craig) Kunz could, but doesn't have time," said district superintendent, Marc Gee. Kunz is over the district's maintenance department.
The second idea is to develop a general plan of what the district wants to see accomplished with the $900,000 that comes into the district each year from the plant facility levy. district administrators want to make sure that those funds are being used primarily for what the district has already promised patrons.
Still expected to be completed during the 2020-2021 school year are: bleachers around the football field, which cost $280,000; remodel of the second of five pods at the Oakwood Elementary, which is expected to cost just over $130,000; begin the installation of a new HVAC system in the old high school gym and roofing on the old portion of Preston High School.
Regarding the updates to the old portion of the high school, the district is waiting to make solid budgetary plans until engineers determine exactly what is needed to complete it. The district is currently communicating with several structural engineering companies to schedule an evaluation of the old high school during the current school year.
"As we’ve looked at it, and talked to engineers, we are concerned that diving into one classroom will open issues that have to be resolved for all classrooms, re: heating, electrical, plumbing. So then you have to have a different approach to finish the project," such as working on multiple rooms at a time, said Gee. "Our construction crew cannot handle the project if we have to do more than one classroom at a time." That fact will dramatically affect the cost of any upgrades, as the school district's crew can finish for $90 per square foot, as compared to as much as $180 per square foot if a crew is hired to come in to be able to finish the project in time to minimally affect class time.