After tabling a plan to renovate Cascade Elementary School's auditorium, the Alpine School Board has told administrators that it will not reserve the $100,000 originally designated for the project.
Cascade Principal Kathryn Spencer told the board this week that parents and students, who were counting on the renovation, will be disappointed."It's been a project that the community has dreamed of for many years," she said.
The school board last year approved a plan to enlarge the school's auditorium and add a stage. The 20-year-old school has been using a small portable stage. The project was canceled after construction bids came in over the budget of $100,000.
"We're very disappointed because the community has been hoping for that since the school's been built," Spencer said. "We're hopeful that this is just a postponement. I wasn't totally surprised by the board's decision. It's one of those things you have to expect in education."
Cascade also will have to function without the safety improvements that would have been part of the project. Recently retired Superintendent Clark Cox said the reason the construction bids came in over budget was workers would have been forced to bring the entire building up to present fire codes. The standards have been set since the school was built, and whenever major construction is done on a building, fire officials require up-to-date improvements.
"It would be a safer school if it was added to," Cox conceded.
He said the major improvement would have involved installing additional air ducts in the building. But Orem fire officials would not say what was in their inspection report.
"It's no biggie," said Andy Burns, fire inspector.
City Attorney Paul Johnson said he advised fire officials not to release the report to the Deseret News until he determines whether it is public information.
Board members would not say how long they will postpone the project, because they are concerned about district finances.
"The decision will have to be reviewed," Superintendent Steven Baugh said. "It's certainly not a permanent type of decision. How long temporary is is another question. We cannot guarantee that the money is earmarked for Cascade Elementary. It may need to be used in other ways. It needs to be looked at realistically. It may be another year."
The board voted 4-1 last month to cancel the renovation after seven construction companies bid 22 percent or more above the district's budget for the project.
Jack McKelvy, Alpine business manager, said finances are so tight that the district shouldn't even spend $100,000 on the project.
"I'm sure at the time you approved it the project looked reasonable, but now it doesn't, so with that point of view we shouldn't proceed," he told the board. "I think at this point you can't even afford $100,000."
McKelvy and other Alpine administrators are worried about what will happen to the district's financial situation if voters approve the tax initiatives on the November ballot. Putting the money intended for the stage project back into Alpine's coffers could provide a vital buffer if the initiatives are approved and education faces budget cuts next year.