The Webb City R-7 School Board approves this new floor plan for the building that’s still the Webb City American Legion Hall, while its replacement is nearing completion in the same vicinity. 

R-7 Board decides reconfiguration of Legion hall won’t get any cheaper

Building to be renamed as Webb City R-7 Student Services Center

Despite rising costs, the Webb City R-7 School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to proceed with plans to reconfigure the former American Legion Hall to house:

• Webb City CARES offices and storage.

• Offices for special education, instructional coaches, professional development and virtual learning.

• Three daycare rooms.

• Meeting rooms, daycare.

• Baseball practice space, player and umpire locker rooms, concessions and outdoor-accessible restrooms.

The board also voted to name the building as the Webb City R-7 Student Services Center.

After the board purchased the building for $950,000 and a land swap last year, there was an initial estimate that it would cost $1.2 million to repurpose the building.

Superintendent Tony Rossetti presented the board with a final cost of $2.3 million.

“It just shocks me that it’s (cost) doubled in four months,” said board member Dan McGrew.

Rossetti admitted the cost is more than anticipated but said that the original estimate by the board’s construction management firm, Crossland Construction, was only based on square footage. Many features have been added since then.

For one thing, Kevin Cooper, assistant superintendent for business operations, noted that the existing HVAC system can’t be used because of the new design. The bid for the HVAC alone is $374,508.

Cooper also pointed out that the selected subcontractor bids were competitive. “I’m pleased with the bids we received.”

The board had the option to rebid the project, wait for construction prices to drop or only do part of the project.

“I feel it (cost) will get worse by delaying it,” said board member David Collard.

“I’m 100% for doing it, I’m just surprised,” said McGrew.

“Have we got the money?” asked board member Lisa Robinson.

“Yes,” answered Rossetti, adding that half would be paid in the current year and the other half paid after the new fiscal year begins on July 1.

Adding the $950,000 purchase price and $2.3 million reconstruction cost ($3,250,333), Robinson also asked what the new cost per square foot is.

Rossetti calculated it at $300 per square foot and to build a new comparable building at that rate would cost $5.4 million.

Board members also said the site’s close proximity to other district property increases the former American Legion Hall building’s value.

More Stadium Drive property to be purchased

The board voted to put $10,000 down as earnest money on 9 acres northwest of the baseball field that was intended to be a subdivision.

If the soil test and title search are adequate, the district will confirm the purchase on May 1 and pay an additional $590,000 to Ron Stenger & Co., of Springfield, after July 1.

In 2013, Stenger had the property rezoned for 98 duplexes. Webb City Park Place, as the development was to be called, was never started.

The west parking lot for the baseball field is south of the property being purchased.

$6 million allocated to WC R-7

Rossetti reported to the board that the state has allocated $6,063,766 to the district from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund III, commonly referred to as ESSER III.

The board voted to approve Rossetti’s suggestion to accept $3 million of the allocation before the current fiscal year ends on June 30 and the balance in the fall. He said the district doesn’t have to spend the money until 2024.

The accepted use of the money will be for continued school operations, including extra hirings and programs, especially due to complications caused by the pandemic.

Major electrical panel needs to be replaced

The board learned that an old electrical panel that was installed with the first phase of the high school is no longer functional. In fact, the only way to shut off electricity to much of the high school is to have Liberty Utilities cut the power.

Replacing it will have to be done when the building isn’t in use. The board accepted a bid of $215,600 from Bill’s Electric was accepted even though there was a lower bid. Collard reasoned that Bill’s Electric, being local, could provide faster service if the new panel needs to be repaired.

Coming back after Memorial Day hinges on whether Friday is a snow day

The current school calendar calls for the last day of school be on Tuesday, May 31. Rossetti proposed a half day of classes on April 4, instead of a full day off for professional development, and a full day instead of a half day on May 27, which would be the last day of school under his plan.

The plan won’t work if school has to be canceled if the forecast is right about one more snow Thursday night.

In other action, the board:

• Approved Rossetti’s plan to inform the public about the district’s $11 million bond issue proposal which will be on the April 5 election ballot. In addition to mailing a pamphlet to every household in the district, the proposal will be discussed and a video will be shown at the Webb City CARES breakfast at 8 a.m. Thursday, March 30, at the Route 66 Events Center.

• Voted to suspend the COVID-19 Cardinal Comeback Plan. That means parents will now be allowed to enter schools and activities such as carnivals can be held. “We’re as close as we’ve ever been to being back to normal,” reported Cooper.


Retirees represent 250 years of service

“We can bring in new people, but they just do not have that perspective of 34 years (for example),” said Rossetti as he presented nine retirement letters:

–Rebecca Botts, high school communication arts.

– Rita Womack Cummings, junior high physical education.

– Sharon Peek, special education at Bess Truman Primary Center.

– Randall Hayes, high school math.

– Kim Endicott, behavior specialist.

– Jill Summers, junior high drama.

– Russell Ball, Harry S Truman Elementary counselor.

– Glenda Irwin, Harry S Truman third grade.

  Kevin Cooper, assistant superintendent of business operations.

Board member Jeanne Newby jokingly booed prior to the acceptance of Cooper’s letter. He is staying until Dec. 31 to help his replacement.

Kevin Cooper

Two resignations were accepted:

– Terry Smith, junior high counselor.

– Kenan Booe, Madge T. James Kindergarten counselor.

Five contracts were approved:

– Emileigh Snyder, first grade at Bess Truman.

– Jonathon Derryberry, principal at Mark Twain Elementary.

– Beverly Carpenter, assistant principal at Webster Primary Center and the middle school.

– Scott Roderique, junior high assistant principal.

– Darrell Hicks, junior high assistant principal and athletic director.