The Vilonia Board of Education held off putting their stamp of approval on spending more than $1.2 million for building a safe room at the primary school. A pending bid sheet reflects the project will cost $200,000 more than the board’s highest prediction based on costs associated with a similar building project which was completed in the fall.

Based on the costs of the building of the high school safe room at $2.1 million, the board projected the cost of the primary safe room, less than half the size of the high school safe room, could be built spending between $900,000 and $1 million. Yet, Dr. Frank Mitchell, school superintendent, said he had received paperwork saying the total building project will be $1,261,371.

"We are a little unhappy with the figures," Mitchell told the board, referring to the bid results dated Dec. 6, and provided a couple of hours before the Monday meeting. Several bidders, Mitchell said, were involved in the process. One cost on the primary project that appeared higher than the high school project, Mitchell said, is the cost of pre-cast.

"I just haven’t had time to look it over good," he added.

The discussion continued for about 30 minutes before the board tabled all action regarding the matter and asked that Mitchell call a special meeting, later in the month, with project representatives in attendance available to field questions.

The high school safe room was completed in the fall and dirt work is to begin on the primary safe room, Mitchell said, in January.

Another matter, the board discussed air conditioning and expansion of the high school gymnasium. A submitted recommendation, architect Steve Elliot suggested installing two (40 ton) packaged air conditioning units on the east side of the gym mounted on the ground with supply and return duct work rising up the exterior wall to the upper level ceiling space at a cost of about $300,000.

There was also a lengthy discussion, by the board, regarding other possible options. Mitchell was asked to invite Elliott to attend the January meeting for more discussion. The funding for the project, Mitchell said, would have to be paid for with all local school funds.

In other business, the board:

---Discussed the traffic situations at the high school and elementary school. Mitchell said it might be advantageous to hire another off-duty police officer to help with traffic control for a while in the afternoon. There was some discussion regarding less expensive options, other than building an additional road, to alleviate the problem which lasts only about 20 minutes, they said.

School officials anticipate with one less grade at the schools, when the new school is built, the traffic situation may take care of itself to a degree.

---Approved the purchase of a special needs bus, with a wheelchair lift and two wheelchair stations, from Diamond State Bus Sales at a cost of $76,860.

--Approved a budget change for a technology budget in the amount of $22,888. The board had previously approved the budget at $86,593 for 160 desktop computers for the middle school computer upgrade. It was said the change will result in newer models and a five-year warranty.

--Approved a bid from Flowers Baking Company of Batesville, to provide temporary bread services to the school cafeteria through Feb.1, due to IBC Sales going out of business. IBC was selected earlier in the year as the provider. Solicitation of bids, Mitchell said, will be made for service beginning Feb. 4.

--Approved a purchase of diesel at $3.2095 from Mid-South Sales.