Commentary

In the black

Money being returned to RISD after bond issue construction

The $30.8-million bond package which built brandnew Rockdale Intermediate and a mostly brand new Rockdale High School is finishing "in the black."

Consultant Dr. Ned Walton told school trustees last week somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000 unspent funds would be going back to the district along with an as-yetunknown amount from bond issue budget allowances.

That's not a great sum in a bond issue so large but it's a great accomplishment and represents some conscientious work by contractor Collier Construction, Bay Architects, consultant LAN-Walton and many more.

Finishing "in the black" became something of a mission for the construction team. Many times over the past two years Dr. Walton told trustees at board meetings the goal was not only to avoid the need to ask for more funds but to return some money to the district.

Remember, in the two years since RISD voters okayed the bonds in May, 2007, the national economy cratered and Alcoa's Rockdale Operations closed.

In the run-up to that bond election, some critics of the package said they believed what Rockdale ISD and its consultants were proposing was impossible, that it simply couldn't be done for the money budgeted.

In fact, a letter to The Reporter before that election flatly stated "cost overruns will occur, probably causing the school board to ask for more money in the future."

Didn't happen. That's not to say there weren't surprises and even setbacks during the construction period. There were but the construction team overcame them.

And they did so without sacrificing quality. Anyone who has been in the new buildings, or the new junior-high wing and renovated elementary cafeteria, has seen what first rate facilities Rockdale has.

They've even impressed the toughest of all critics. At the same board meeting, Intermediate Principal Pam Kaufmann reported she was walking down a hall when she overheard one student turn to another and say: "Isn't it great we get to go to school in this place!"

Indeed. And thanks to lot of dedicated people, the taxpayers of this school district got what was promised for the price that was promised.

And got a bit of a bargain at that.—M.B.


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2009-10-01 digital edition



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