Throughout the course of the following months we will be adding to the Q&A blog below. Please check back regularly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the expected completion date for the project?
The project will take approximately three to four years to complete, including design, SED approval process, bidding process and construction. The project will be completed in phases, since large work can only be completed when school is not in session.
What is the cost of the capital project to the district and to tax payers?
The project will not exceed $18,500,000. The District will be retiring debt over the next 10 years and, as a result, we can borrow for this project without an additional tax increase to residents. Moreover, approximately 31% of the project will be reimbursed from the State Education Department, reducing our payments of the borrowing.
What is the scope of the project and are we building any new facilities?
The project will positively impact all five schools, focusing on Safety and Security, How Students Learn, Infrastructure Upgrades and Community Facilities. Specifically, work in the five schools will include, but is not limited to, new paving of roadways, sidewalks and parking lots; improved exterior lighting to improve visibility and enhance security; bathroom and locker room renovations to comply with ADA and related regulations; science classroom and auditorium renovations in the middle and high school to improve student experience and provide 21st century learning facilities; replacement of high school track and installation of an all-weather turf field; and HVAC, plumbing and electrical upgrades to create more energy-efficient facilities.
Why are we proposing a capital project at this time?
The State requires Districts to complete a five-year Building Condition Survey (BCS) that identifies capital improvements that are necessary. Our Survey was completed in the Spring of 2016. The Survey showed more than $55 million in needed improvements. We are pursuing this project now to address necessary improvements in a timely fashion as well as to take advantage of historically low interest rates and high reimbursement rates. Moreover, we are in a favorable bidding climate and anticipate construction bids to be more competitive, allowing the district the complete more project work with fewer dollars.
Why can’t the district pay for the cost of the construction out of the regular budget?
The yearly budget is mainly for operations. The law also limits how much money we can set aside from operations. If we tried to save for the capital project, we estimate it would take 10 years of 2.5% tax levy increases every year just to raise $1 million. For school districts, issuing bonds remains the most common way to fund capital projects. Moreover, issuing a bond enables state aid reimbursement, which we estimate at 31% for this project.
What happens if there are cost overruns? What happens if there are cost savings?
By law, there cannot be cost overruns. Because the total project cost includes estimates, it also includes amounts called contingencies which are designed to take care of overages due to changes in cost, design or construction methods compared to the original estimates. Contingencies vary from 10-20% of the hard construction costs. Any use of contingency amounts due to changes in the project will be carefully scrutinized by district administration. Such changes must be approved by the Board of Education in public meetings. If we do not utilize all of our capital bond monies, it will result in cost savings for the district.
Does the turf field require extra maintenance?
The turf field does not require extra maintenance. In fact, it requires less maintenance than a natural grass field. It does not require mowing and line repainting. The turf field will need to be groomed, which consists of pulling a large, specially designed rake behind a tractor/lawn mower. This maintenance is far less taxing on our workforce and will require much less time and energy than the maintenance required for a grass field.