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Facilities Information
Brad Starnes
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Facilities Information

As to be expected there's lots of information request/questions being asked about the most recent Facilities Committee recommendations to the BOE.  To help with the understanding of this process, wanting to provide accurate, available public information I am attaching the Facilities Meeting notes, HTK Architects Options pages outlining the options/tax & savings implications.

Please understand the district/BOE is at the information gathering stage of the possible bond facilities process.  There will be many opportunities for people to provide input such as town hall meetings, surveys, questionnaires, website, etc.  

The district has some concerns which have been publicly spoken about for several years. 
1. To run the district our cash balances/savings since 2009 have been spent down to where we presently have saved a month's worth of expenses (usually financial advisors would like that to be 3-6 mos of expenses).
2. We have aging facilities that are taking lots of general operating expenses and are hard to budget for($2.4 mil of roofs out of 20 year warranties, $200,000-$400,000 of HVAC systems that are near their last leg)
3. According to our architects we have 100,000 more sq ft than school districts our size.  These extra square footage cost the district $184,000 annually in additional charges ($1.84 per sq ft-avg maintenance cost per building).  Maintenance costs include all monthly utility (gas, electrical, sewer, water, trash)-Internet-property insurance.
4. We are having trouble filling & keeping needed classified positions-some due to pay-money which is being spent on facilities and increased maintenance costs (refer to the ads in our newspapers)
5. The BOE/District goals include student safety & security-to that end the BOE/District goals include removing all modulars district wide.

The district is to a point where they can't produce more revenue (maxed out in Capital Outlay mils-8 and Local Option Budget-LOB 33%) and we've been making some cuts/delaying purchases, but not to the extent of $184,000 annually.  Our expenses have risen 9% since 2009, yet the rate of inflation has been 9.37%.  (attached spreadsheet overview 2012-18)  

A comparison of spending compared to MEL/area schools for instruction, operations & maintenance, etc-shows we are spending at comparable rates as other schools. (attached spreadsheet)

So, the BOE selected a facilities committee whose members (2 from each school board member district) represented all district communities to review this information.  HTK architectural firm provided information with possible facilities options to the BOE appointed facilities committee for review.  Options included (attached) went from Status Quo to a brand new PK-12 $56 mil facility somewhere.

The committee met 3 times (notes attached) and voted to recommend an option (#11) to the BOE for consideration.  They also recommended a possible April bond election to fund the project.  Their reasons for selecting Option 11 are included within the notes.  

Right now is a very advantageous time to consider a bond:
1.  Interest rates are at historic lows (1.77% when refinanced our present school bond)
2.  We have the last bond election taxes coming off the books in 2021-thus not creating big tax increases for new/upgraded facilities and in some cases cuts in what your taxes presently are for bond & interest payments.
3.  Construction costs are good and every year you delay construction you add 3% to the total costs.  

This is a lot of information and I know you or others have questions.  I or BOE members are available to help answer your questions.  The BOE is having a special BOE meeting Monday, Dec 2nd at 6 PM to discuss facilities.  Again, they are in the gathering information stage and nothing has been determined to date, other than the facilities committee has made a recommendation for possible action to the BOE.

Brad Starnes
Superintendent USD 329 Wabaunsee

Please review the documents posted for more detailed information. DOCUMENTS