I have had so many people stop me on the street or in the grocery store to thank me for speaking up during the February School Board meeting.
I feel it is prudent to inform everyone what I said during the public forum of that meeting. The following was presented.
“Many of you have already noticed and are feeling the increased taxes being deducted from your paychecks. Our school district millage continues to be one of the highest in the state and as long as our school board continues to use their autocratic ability to bond us to the maximum allowable by the state, there will not be any relief in your property taxes (home, auto, boat motor, etc…) any time soon. In May 2005 the School Board established a list of capital projects that needed to be completed to bring our schools up to standards. The $77.5 million dollar program was funded through “NICE Funds” or the Installment Purchase and Renewal Plan. Basically bonding the county to the maximum constitutional debt limit of 8 percent, this is repaid over 25 years by our property tax dollars through millage established by the county. In November of 2010 the District announced that all projects had been completed and there was a $3 to $3.5 million dollar surplus.”
The board then authorized staff to hire consultants to perform a Capital Needs Assessment to assist in deciding which projects to spend the remaining NICE funds on. This Assessment identified: NHS Mini Theater Renovations, NHS Security Upgrades, NCCC Mechanical Renovations, Parking lot improvements for the complex and an Administration Office.
In the 2012 Strategic Plan Update (March 2012) it was reiterated that these projects are to be funded with the remaining NICE funds. With the completion of the NHS projects, administration began pushing for well needed new or improved offices. The process staff and board utilized to accomplish the design of this building ignored Policy FEA, which calls for community input.
As well as disregard for Policy BBA again calling for “keeping local citizenry informed”. The design has been completed and the low bid recently received was $3.6 million = $180 per square foot. This does not include architectural fees, construction management fees, construction testing fees, nor land acquisition nor furnishings.
The building design is extreme. The design shuns our current age of open cubicle style offices and provides generous individual closed door offices for all, a large Superintend Suite – equipped with private bathroom, five nice conference rooms and a large multi-purpose room of which a third is dedicated to an elevated Board platform seating area.
The district is currently operating on a budget that exceeds anticipated revenues. The excess $640,000 is being funded by our “savings account”.
While we do not deny new office space is well needed, but we are not in favor of this “Cadillac” version.
We are not in favor for continuing to keep the borrowing capacity of the county maxed out.
On the coat tails of a $2.6 mil renovation at NHS, the public is concerned how you can build a new administration office with the remaining original NICE funds as promised and reported in 20120 to be $3-3.5 million.
Laura G. Dukes