School Board takes next step for comprehensive plan
The Stevens Point Area Public School District will negotiate a contract with Nexus Solutions, a Madison company, to assist it in forming and potentially implementing a comprehensive plan for the district that could include future building, remodeling and maintenance projects.
The unanimous decision came after more than 30 minutes of discussion Monday, June 13, during which board members asked several questions about the commitment to the firm after a plan was developed.
Nexus would partner with Ellis Construction on the planning at no cost, according to the proposal from the firm, but in turn the district would be obligated to use the company for professional services in implementing the plan – any portion of the plan – for three years.
Such details still need to be worked out through the contract negotiation process, school and firm officials said. A contract will come before the board later this summer for approval before the company begins its process.
Professional services include design and project management, but could involve more, said Mike David, a principal with Nexus. The cost for each service would come back to the board and would be line-itemed according to building and service, he said.
“We would be compensated for the professional services necessary to implement the plan,” David said. “If the district doesn’t do anything, then we’ve invested time for nothing, I guess, but we’re pretty confident that we’ll come up with a plan that you’ll be encouraged to implement.
“School districts typically have several studies sitting on shelves,” he said, adding that without a funding plan, the studies remain studies and usually are not implemented. “We’ll show you how to fund it and how to present it to the community.”
Nexus would help prepare specifications and assist with the bidding process, and all aspects of any project that would move forward would follow the typical bidding process.
“We are employing a company whose expertise is developing this plan as a road map to guide you with what you want to do,” said Tom Owens, district director of business services. “Any major decision, of course, rests with you.”
School Board members voiced concerns about several different areas of costs: costs to develop the plan, cost for services, costs to fund any potential projects that result from this plan.
Agreeing to have Nexus do the plan costs nothing at this point, David said. The district would be contractually obligated to use Nexus for the professional services, which would amount to about 10 percent of the cost of a project, he said; design service fees, for comparison, typically run between 15 and 20 percent of a project, he said.
Nexus would develope a “financial solution,” a financing plan for funding any projects the district wanted to move forward. That funding effort is Nexus’ specialty, David said.
“There are different ways school can fund projects, and there’s an optimal way,” he said. “We specialize in showing you the optimal way.
“For example, we just completed a plan with another Wisconsin school district, and that cost (to implement) was $26 million, and the district could fund it without a referendum and without an increase in taxes,” David said, “and they started out saying ‘we don’t have any money.’
“I’m not saying that will happen here, but there are innovative ways to do this, and we will do that, being transparent, not with smoke and mirrors,” he said. “There are a lot of innovative means relative to facility improvements.”
David spoke of different funds school districts can use specifically for facility improvements, different combinations of funds, existing capital, restructuring existing debt service and use of revenue exemption funds, including using an amendment to the state statute that David said he wrote and pushed for legislative passage.
In the Nexus submitted proposal, the firm estimated “complex” project service costs at about $1.2 million, including design services, plans and specs for competitive bidding.
The firm also outlined a tentative timeline which includes completion of the comprehensive plan and presentation to the board in September, project selection/consultation in October, potential referendum if needed in spring 2017 with implementation beginning potentially as soon as fall or spring 2017