Billings Public Schools trustees approved a $120 million list of projects Monday that they hope will garner the district some federal stimulus money.
The list, which includes projects in all district buildings, has been sent to Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
President-elect Barack Obama has said that part of a federal economic stimulus package could be money for schools. That funding will probably be for renovation and repairs; however, no decision has been made about whether the money will be available or how it will be allocated.
Having the list completed makes the district ready to request funding, School District 2 Superintendent Jack Copps said at a special meeting Monday. A Baucus spokesman said last week that the senator will use the list to help show the need for school facilities funding.
Most of the projects are what Obama has referred to as "shovel-ready," meaning work could start within 90 to 120 days and also would create jobs, Copps said.
Trustees encouraged developing the list, which updates a previous list of $85 million in deferred maintenance, said Joel Guthals, board vice chairman.
Stimulus money would help address work that has been deferred because the projects must be paid for with building reserve funds and bond issues, neither of which the community has been willing to approve.
"This is work we need to do," Guthals said. But without local funding, "the list grows on and on and on."
Many of the projects would create energy efficiencies. Replacing windows, upgrading computer-controlled energy systems and putting in more efficient lighting would have a "very significant payback," Guthals said.
"That is, we actually make money."
The list was created by SD2 Facilities Director Rich Whitney and his staff with assistance from CTA Architects Engineers. CTA did the work as an in-kind donation, so there was no cost to the school district. The 48-page list is broken down by each facility and lists the costs based on square footage.
There are 420 projects, spread across the district's 35 facilities - all the schools, the Career Center, the Lincoln Center, the facility services building on Central Avenue, the district's warehouse and Daylis Stadium.
The work is meant to meet the standard of "warm, safe, dry and accessible" facilities for kids, Copps said.
"None of this is pork," Copps said. "These are critical issues that we are looking at every day, and we don't have the resources available to fix the problems."
The trustees met to address the termination of a custodian at Skyview High. The board met in closed session for about five minutes to discuss the termination, then reopened the meeting and voted unanimously to fire Melvin Mitchell. He was hired fewer than 90 days ago, was still under probation and was not meeting expectations, Copps said.
The trustees' regular meeting is Monday. It begins at 5:30 p.m. in the boardroom of the Lincoln Center.