February 25, 2019

Published: February 25, 2019
Superintendent Reports


“The best things come to those who wait” was a slogan used in an advertising campaign launched by the H.J. Heinz Company in the 1980s to promote its Heinz brand of tomato ketchup. The central concept of the campaign was that even people in a hurry would wait for Heinz ketchup to trickle from its glass bottle. Although it is an unusual comparison, the St. James R-I School District’s present building project could be compared to the ketchup company’s advertising expression.

Everyone who supported last April’s no-tax increase bond initiative was ready to get the project started the day after the vote. I personally envisioned breaking ground as early as last fall. However, due to our architect not being able to provide the first series of plans within our budget, we had to make the unpopular decision to put the brakes on the project. Although there is much disappointment among those who were itching to get started, it is important to note that the delay comes with the school board members being fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars. Haphazardly rushing into any building project produces a litany of unknown problems not necessary if careful planning and vetting occur instead. Although progress has slowed and we are still uncertain about a definitive start time, Dake Wells Architecture has been working through their quality control process to get the early childhood drawings coordinated with engineers.

Early childhood drawings will be ready for construction very soon, but we will continue to wait on revised costs from our construction manager (BRANCO) before releasing them to start construction. This will help ensure the entire project is within budget. Revised early childhood plans were in BRANCO’s possession as of early last week. They are currently reviewing those plans and will be working with subcontractors to provide cost estimates.

As for the performing arts/high school project, Dake Wells continues to work with BRANCO on value engineering items to determine what needs to change. BRANCO is presently re-assessing the high school project and trying to refocus it to a reasonable cost to District. Dake Wells and BRANCO have been diligently working to field all options in order to give us the project we need within our financial capabilities. The options are many and nothing is off the table to complete the projects within our means and in accordance with our bond issue.

Although the start of construction is taking longer than we all hoped, our focus continues to be on what is best for our district long term. We do not want to make short term decisions that lead to long term problems or complications for our children and grandchildren. I honestly believe the time we are spending now to get the most for our money is some of the best time we can spend. In 50 years the patrons of St. James will not remember the delay in construction, but they will be thankful for the good decisions that were made to set them up for future success.

It’s much like Heinz ketchup: most people are willing to hang on for large rewards rather than going for that instant but small gratification. Just hang in with us, and I know we will reap the many benefits of the wait.