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Chappelow Provides Westminster Update

Ladue School District Superintendent tells board of early acquisition of Creve Coeur property.

Ladue School District Superintendent Marsha Chappelow provided an update on the district’s acquisition of ’s old campus.

Chappelow told members of the Ladue School Board Monday that the district will officially take back the Creve Coeur facility on January 1, 2012. The school district purchased the campus in 2009 as part of a successful bond issue and is finishing up

The decision to take over the old campus early comes as , Chappelow said. Movers have spent the last few days relocating to the new campus in Town and Country.

“They’re going to be moving in this fall, which is great for them because they’re going to have their students and staff and so forth starting over there,” Chappelow said. “And they will still have the property for the fall semester, because they will be moving some things out. But they’re going to start school at the other facility. So we’re going to be taking over that facility on January 1.”

Chappelow said there is a “trade-off” when it comes to the financial impact of acquiring the property at that time.

“We’ve looked at with the lease payments about $115,000 that we discussed that we will not be getting in lease payments,” Chappelow said. “But how it’s going to help us is we’ll have about 15 percent lower costs with our abatement, because we’re going to be using the off-peak month for that. Just general conditions with savings looking at overhead and staff and temporary utilities, we’re going to avoid the premium contractor rate times, which was going to be a problem because we had a shorter window.”

“It’s just going to give us overall more time in bid preparations and so forth and hopefully that will give us time to make better decisions,” Chappelow added. “We’ll have a savings of all that of around $125,000. So it’s a little bit of a wash with that. We’ll miss some lease payments, but we’ll have savings in some other areas.”

BOARD MEMBERS PRAISE CHILDHOOD CENTER

Board members were given an update on the progress of the Early Childhood Center, a facility on Westminster’s old campus that is nearing completion.

The center will feature programs for toddlers and children aged 3 to 5. It will house afternoon programs focusing on science, geography, cooking and theater.

The building contains over two dozen classrooms, a gym, an art room with a kiln and a reading room. It will also contain a "Big Room" that has been compared to the

Dan Behler of SM Wilson told board members that the building will be completed about three weeks ahead of schedule. He also showed photographs of the facility, which elicited a positive reaction from several board members.

“We had a community patron who was unhappy with the color choice,” said Board Member Stacy Washington. “And I’m looking at it and it looks like an early childhood center – a modern, upscale early childhood center.”

“This could be the kiss of death, but I think it looks great,” added Board Member Andy Bresler.

Referring to the facility’s timeline, Chappelow said “being under budget is great, but being ahead of schedule is also good.”

“Because we’ve not done a lot of moving like this,” Chappelow said. “And just gives us a little extra time for people to get their rooms in order and that’s a good thing.”

CLOSED SESSION

The board met in closed session before the start of the meeting. The board’s website cited legal, personnel and real estate matters in going into closed session before an open meeting commenced a little after 7 p.m.

PUBLIC COMMENT ON OLD BOHOMME COMMUTE

Mark Biernacki, the parent of a first grader at Old Bonhomme Elementary, spoke out during a public comment period about how it is unsafe for children to cross Warson Road in the morning due to “high-traffic, high-speeds and low visibility caused by the hills.”

“It’s really a dangerous area for our children,” Biernack said. “And if my first grader is made to walk to school, she will walk along Warson Road crossing it twice at the most dangerous places due to the hills and the speed of the traffic involved.”

Biernacki told the board that he wanted to figure out a way to provide more money to Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Jason Buckner to fund another bus route and to “make sure that our kids don’t get run over going across Warson.”

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