OGDEN — Once again, the Ogden Board of Education wants to discuss the future of Polk Elementary School.
Friday afternoon, the school board called a special session to discuss possible scenarios for the elementary school and to receive input from “outside experts,” Ogden School District spokesman Jer Bates said.
The special session will take place at 6 p.m., Tuesday at the Ogden School District building, 1950 Monroe Blvd.
Although open to the public, the special session will not allow for input from the public.
Bates told the Standard-Examiner the school district expects to have “at least one independent expert analysis about the building but we are hopeful [to] hear information from three or even more.”
“This is meant to be much more comprehensive,” Bates said. “We feel it’s necessary in particular because some of the information that has been presented has been taken somewhat out of context, so we want to clarify and be much more comprehensive in our analysis.”
The school district held an open house last week to discuss three potential bond scenarios. Two of the scenarios call for the replacement of Polk Elementary at a cost of $25 million.
The school district estimated that it will cost $30 million to renovate the school.
However, community members have been expressing concerns on social media, claiming that those numbers are completely different to numbers discussed by an engineer firm in May.
In a May school board meeting, BHB Structural estimated the total cost to renovate the historic portion and expand the school — including architectural designs, fees, testings and inspections — would be $18 million. To build a new school, however, the estimated cost is $18.2 million.
So, why are the numbers so different?
“That estimate that was presented by that one firm in May doesn’t align as well or it isn’t as consistent with the estimation we have gotten previously from other experts in the field, who are more expertly trained and more qualified,” Bates said. “To provide a cost projection for that project, and to have it professionally done is likely going to cost the district six figures and take months to complete.”
In other words, BHB Structural only assessed the structure of the building, and didn’t do a comprehensive assessment.
And the school district, since last year’s bond campaign, has estimated the cost to rebuild an elementary school to be $25 million.
Jeff Heiner, Ogden Board of Education president, acknowledged in an email that the numbers provided by BHB Structural were “lower than the working estimations that the District and Board of Education had been using for considering capital facility planning.”
He said the board asked multiple experts on construction cost projection to assess the building and provide and present their findings at the special session. He said the information was needed in order to make a final decision.
“The Board has not questioned whether or not Polk Elementary has a future in Ogden, but rather, how that future will take shape,” Heiner said. “The Board of Education understands that efforts to renovate and preserve Polk School while also making it a suitable home for advanced teaching and learning will extend beyond the building’s support structure.”