Munger Mountain Elementary School

The front of Munger Mountain Elementary School is envisioned in this rendering by Dubbe Moulder Architects.

It’s official: Munger Mountain Elementary School will have a 6-inch sewer main.

Teton County School District officials decided to finance a change in sewer main size themselves. They hope to recoup the cost — an estimated $300,000 — through connection fees down the line.

It’s probable that the majority of the cost, if not the entirety, can be covered using any money the district saves by being under budget this year. If not, existing cash reserves could be used.

Assistant Superintendent Jeff Daugherty said the cash reserves are “essentially a rainy day fund” for the school district. The reserves total roughly $7.5 million. Once a fiscal year closes the under-extended spending goes into the cash reserves.

There are a lot of details that still need to be worked out. The board of trustees, which was informed of the decision during a budget workshop last week, will hear a formal change order request during its July 12 meeting.

Daugherty told trustees that he tried “in good faith” to pursue the Hog Island Sewer Improvement District, referred to as the ISD, to finance the cost upfront. The best-case scenario timeline he was able to come up with for that process was 16 weeks — something “that concerned me, because in my mind that jeopardized the opening of the school,” he said.

The alternative, he said, was having the district pay the cost. The timeline for that route? Much shorter: five weeks and two days.

“The upside with us as the full owner of the system is that it puts us in full control of how we set up an agreement with the ISD in the future,” Daugherty told trustees. “I plan to move forward with having the district fund this project because it’s consistent with what I understand the board’s appetite to be, to switch from a 4-inch to a 6-inch sewer main.”

Trustees talked about the issue, wondering what it would do to the timeline of the project.

“Our primary focus is to get the school open on time,” Trustee Annie Band said.

District staff and trustees have repeatedly said that time is of the essence. Any changes to the construction of the new Munger Mountain Elementary School can’t be over budget — the state gave the district $25 million for construction — and it can’t be late. Students are expected to start the 2018 school year in the building.

Daugherty said that the school district will probably enter into a contract with the Hog Island Sewer Improvement District and that the sewer improvement district would operate the line.

He also predicted that several entities south of town, like the Old West Cabins, the Jackson Hole Gun Club and Evans Trailer Park, would want to connect to the sewer.

“We know that we have captive customers,” he said. “We know that we’re going to be repaid in the future.”

Now that the district is financing the line upfront, Daugherty said it will be in control of how the work is done.

“Now we have the time to think through strategically how to manage those decisions,” he said. “Under the original methodology we were rushing through all of that.”

Contact Kylie Mohr at 732-7079, or @JHNGschools.

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