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Funding in place for new athletic facility, final plan not approved

The Andalusia City School system has funding in place for a new multi-purpose physical education facility at Andalusia High School, but has not finalized plans for the building.

Superintendent Ted Watson updated board members on the $2.5 million in Qualified School Construction Bonds the system will receive. The board was notified on Aug. 27 that they would receive a share of the $154,727,000 QSCB funds sold for projects across the state.

The bonds, which are structured as Build America Bonds, allow for interest to be charged but provide a tax credit that is awarded to the bond holders.

Under the arrangement ACS will only be obligated to repay an estimated 83.28 percent, which is a little more than $2 million. The Andalusia Bulldog Football Foundation has partnered with the school to raise the funds needed for the annual debt service on the project until the ACS pays off the debt on the elementary school.

Board members also reviewed project plans presented by Joe Donofro of Donofro & Associates, the architects for the project, but did not approve them.

The project includes a 30,132 square foot physical education facility featuring a 50-yard practice field, and a 6,349 square foot facility that will include a classroom, a media and film room, coaches offices, showers and toilets, a laundry facility, physical therapy and training room and a hall of honors.

Donofro told the board his goal was to stretch the $2.5 million as far as it will go.

“We have chosen the best site,” he said of the campus area where tennis courts now sit. “It is the flattest site and we are trying desperately to do as much as we can with the amount of money we have.”

The current estimated costs for the project include $1.2 million for the indoor multipurpose practice facility, and $670,000 for the varsity locker room. Other options to be bid include renovation of the old locker room for weight training and spring sports, expected to cost approximately $300,000; renovating the old girls locker room for weight training, lockers and showers, expected to cost $133,485; and renovating the old shop building for additional classrooms, estimated to cost $224,528.

Donofro suggested to the board to seek help from Shaw Industries to see if the company would help supply the turf for the facility, which would be a $180,000 savings.

The total estimated construction costs, with all options, would be $2.528 million. That does not include an estimated at $163,520 in professional fees necessary for the project.

Board members expressed several concerns, including the possible need for air conditioning and heating in the practice facility.

“What happens when it is 105 degrees during the summer time?” board member Bill King asked.

Donofro said they would be using the thickest insulation available for a metal building, but said that if they were planning to use the facility for events, it would be beneficial to go ahead and have the engineers design an air conditioning system for the building.

“I think it’s a good move to go ahead and have the plans drawn up for the air conditioning,” he said.

Board member Joe Nix and Superintendent Ted Watson were concerned with the heating.

“I’d like to request that we do the same for the heating, as well,” Watson said.

Another issue that was brought up included the side entrance from the side parking lot.

School board attorney Bill Alverson suggested making a nice entrance on the side facing the street so it could be used for events.

The board agreed.

Donofro estimated the project can be completed in 11 months once it gains board approval.