The Baker School Board on Tuesday approved a contract amendment that raises the budget for rebuilding Baker High School from $12 million to $14 million.
The budget for rebuilding the school, which was damaged in the August 2016 flood, has been altered several times.
Originally, the board had budgeted $22 million for the rebuild, but it lowered the estimate in November in response to the amount of money it expected to receive from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In November, the board asked Manning Architects of New Orleans to provide possible designs for $10 million and $12 million.
However, now that Manning has completed the design, the firm has estimated it will cost $14 million to rebuild Baker High, Superintendent Herman Brister said Tuesday.
The budget for the rebuild does not include architectural fees of over $1 million, $1 million for construction management, and other expenses.
Bidding on the construction phase should begin by early next month, he said.
Students are expected to be able to move into a rebuilt Baker High by fall 2019. After the flood, the high school students were moved to Baker Middle School. The middle school students are at Bakerfield Elementary, and Bakerfield and Baker Heights Elementary are combined on the Baker Heights campus.
The School Board also amended the contract with Manning to add a design for expanding instructional space at Baker High with a budget of $3.5 million. The board set the architect’s fee for that design at $136,000.
The extra design will be used only if funds become available in two or three years, Brister said.
“We want to allow the possibility of expanding if the enrollment increases. I’m optimistic about that happening,” he said.
The district has borrowed $12 million to rebuild Baker High, some of which it has already paid off using reimbursement from its insurance and FEMA.
However, the School Board voted in December to purchase $6 million in bonds that it will repay over 20 years with a fixed interest rate of 6 percent or a variable rate not to exceed 8 percent per year.
That amount will cover whatever expenses are not reimbursed by FEMA, Brister explained at that time.
After Tuesday's meeting, he clarified that FEMA has only agreed to pay “way less than half” the cost of the renovation and that drove the decision to purchase the bonds.
Brister said he is not worried about coming up with the extra $2 million for the design, though he acknowledged the district might have to use general fund money to cover the costs.
In other business, the board voted unanimously to accept the school district’s audit report from Postlethwaite & Netterville accounting firm for the fiscal year 2016-17. The district received an unmodified opinion from the firm, the highest rating.
The school district paid P&N $52,000 to conduct the audit.
The board also approved a plan for Baker students to attend school Feb. 14, May 23 and May 24 to make up for the three days missed in January due to ice and snow. School district employees will be required to report to work on those days.