Facility Plan Update

Facility Plan Update

October 4, 2016 was a mere 127 days ago, but I have to tell you that minutes and hours of every single one of those days has been spent on fulfilling our promise to the Great Falls community: we will improve our public school facilities to ensure they serve as educational institutions for years to come. Here’s a recap of some of the activity so far:

  • 65% of the bonds ($64M out of the approved $98.8M) were sold last week at an interest rate of approximately 3.17%. The rate estimate one year ago was 4.25%. The current economy played a part in the lower rates, but so did the robust interest in GFPS by investors. Bond interest rates are determined by supply and demand. High demand drove our rates lower than estimated. This is good news for our tax payers as they will pay less in interest than estimated. Actually a lot less: $7.7M less over the 20 years.
  • The remainder of the bonds ($34.8M) will be sold in approximately 2 years. They had to be phased due to rules that make us ensure that all the work the bonds are going to pay for will be done within 3 years. There is no way to get all $98.8M of projects done in 3 years. After the sale of the second series of bonds, we will have 5 years from the bond election (10/4/16) to get it all done. Our budgets for each project are good which means there is no fear that projects will go undone due to not enough funds. We are obligated to do all the work that was included in the bond language and we will.
  • There are very specific laws that govern how firms are selected to do the bond work. The pertinent Montana Codes Annotated can be found in Title 18. You can look them up here: http://www.leg.mt.gov/bills/mca/title_0180/chapter_0020/parts_index.html. Our consultants from Hulteng, Inc. have extensive experience with these processes and are leading us through them carefully and lawfully.
  • Ten different professional firms have been hired on an “indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ)” basis. These firms are currently working on 27 different projects. You can check this out at these webpages: http://gfps.k12.mt.us/content/other-projects-underway and http://gfps.k12.mt.us/content/indefinite-delivery-indefinite-quantity-idiq-professionals.
  • The Little Russell remodel and the new building for the Buildings and Grounds Department is being designed by Nelson Architects and they are in the preliminary stages of planning and design. This work is necessary in order to vacate and demolish their current location at Lowell so the Roosevelt replacement school can be built there.
  • L’Heureux Page Werner Architecture and Engineering (LPW) has been selected to do the design work for the Roosevelt replacement school. They have already started working with staff and will soon communicate with the neighbors by Lowell School.
  • Request for Qualifications for the design team for the Multipurpose and STEM additions to CMR have been advertised and that design team will be selected soon.
  • All of the other projects have been put on timelines that ensure the completion of the projects as presented in the Facility Plan.

From afar, it might look like nothing is happening or that your school is being ignored. Please know that there is a mountain of preliminary action that must take place prior to the actual work being done. Also, please know that this is a 5-year process. It is just not possible to do everything all at once. Please be patient and please trust that there are good things to come.

Take care. Be safe. Stay well.