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School board members approve OEC bids

SOLON– The Outdoor Events Center (OEC) that will host Spartan football, soccer, track and field and the marching band has been approved and financed by the Solon school board.
The long-awaited stadium will be built by City Construction of Iowa City, which beat four other bidders for the project.
City’s bid was $2.32 million, a tick under architect and engineering firm Shive-Hattery’s estimate of $2.49 million that includes three alternate bids for a home team room building with storage space; a visitor’s team room attached to the visitor’s side concessions; and a parking lot behind the high school that can be used by school staff outside of game nights.
School board members Dean Martin and Lianne Westcot voted against the team room alternates. Martin called the alternate bid prices excessive, but the separate motions carried, 3-2.
The board also approved financing for the project with a bank loan of $1.9 million in a short-term scenario drawn up by Tim Oswalt of Des Moines financial firm Piper-Jaffray.
OEC fundraising will make up the difference of the project costs.
By committing to the project, Superintendent Sam Miller said money for a new high school auditorium would have to go before voters in a bond referendum as district money is now tied up by a 2010 bond and the new OEC loan.
Steve Duncan, hired last year to make a final push for OEC fundraising, ended his contract with the Solon Education Foundation. Duncan was paid $2,395 for his efforts in raising $68,430 in the past year, amounting to 3.5 percent of the OEC income.
The Solon Athletic Booster Club donated approximately $75,000 to the project and the OEC committee raised about $18,000 prior to Duncan’s contract. The Solon Area Community Foundation and the Optimist Club of Solon also made contributions of $25,000 and $5,000.
The board approved a committee to plan the layout and guidelines for a donor recognition plaza with six stone pillars to honor community contributions to the new stadium.
An OEC usage committee was also appointed that will develop rules, fees and a process for determining field usage by the schools and community. The committee will include Duncan, football coach Kevin Miller, board members Dean Martin and Dan Coons (who both serve on the facilities committee), building and grounds supervisor Mike Kasparek, activities director Keith McSweeney; some community members and representatives from the city, school music department and the Solon Park and Recreation Department.

Since September, the board and administrative team have been developing a strategic plan for the district with consultant Dr. Troyce Fisher.
Solon’s strategic plan was posted on the school website at http://www.solon.k12.ia.us, where parents and the community can complete a brief survey to share input on the proposed plan.
“The more input we get, the better,” Martin said to general agreement from the rest of the board.
The district will look at the future strategy of its facilities and school financial plans this summer and fall.

A public hearing for the school budget was scheduled for the April 9 board meeting. The district will keep the proposed property tax rate at $16.95715; down slightly from last year.