District 25 voters will get a third opportunity to decide on a bond issue for school improvements on the elementary level.
That was the decision reached by the Broken Bow Board of Education Monday as they approved a bond resolution in the amount of $5.83 million. The vote on the resolution was 5-1, with Haumont voting no. A special poll election will be held Sept. 13, with the final decision being up to the taxpayers.
Jay Spearman of Ameritas Financial, was on hand at Monday’s board meeting to present information and answer any board questions relating to the Qualified School Construction Bonds which the district has already been awarded. The district qualified for a maximum of $5.83 million at the current .5 percent interest rate, which simply means the district will be reimbursed on the interest they pay on the bond all but a half of a percent.
Unless you are new to the area, you are no doubt aware that this is an issue that has been several years in the making. District patrons have voted no to two previous school bonds, the last being in August 2010. That bond request was for $9.95 million.
“The board has been working on this for the last five or six years. With each effort, the problem doesn’t go away,” explained Ken Myers, chair of the board’s facilities committee. “It doesn’t look like we are going to be able to complete the project we need for under the $5.83 million. We really feel like we need to have our bond large enough to complete the project at North Park. This does, with interest, come in at less than half the cost of the last two bond issues.”
Superintendent Dr. Virginia Moon added, “The people have been telling us no two phases, so we have tried very hard to come up with a project that takes care of everything at once. I think this is a very conservative project.”
The issue prompted a great deal of discussion among the board, including comments from the newest board member, Matthew Haumont.
“I have been part of the opposition both times, everybody knows that. I would have liked to see more of the cost for a project rolled over to the Foundation,” said Haumont.
Haumont did say he is passing on concerns he hears from others on a regular basis, though they may or may not be opinions he shares. He also inquired about facilities issues at the high school and how those would be addressed with no bond money set aside for that.
Board president Michelle Zlomke addressed Haumont’s concerns by reminding him that many of those projects at the high school are currently being worked on, and will continue to be addressed, using regular budget and building funds. Zlomke pointed out the fact that Joe Shea has shared both the short range and long range plans for meeting those needs at the high school and middle school, which includes a great deal of work done on the buildings this summer.
“I feel very comfortable with where we are at with that,” said Zlomke.
Myers also addressed Haumont, saying “I was on that side too. I struggled with the last two bond issues. But we have worked hard to come up with a good plan.”
Haumont commented that it had been his desire to keep a bond request under $5 million, and asked Myers what happened to that figure. Myers again explained that he did not believe the project could be completed for under $5 million, and emphasized the importance of asking the taxpayers for money only once.
Grant Craeger, architect with CG Architects of North Platte, who was awarded the project, was also present at the meeting. Craeger addressed an issue that was brought up concerning the use of bond money to build a new gym. Craeger says the plans for the North Park project do include a new multi-purpose room.
Dr. Moon reminded the board of the necessity of this multi-purpose area. “We need a place for the kids to eat their lunch, and be able to take more than 12 or 14 minutes without tables being put up to make room for PE, music or recess.”
Craeger added that it is possible federal funds may be available for the multi-purpose room for use as a safe house for that part of the community. However, that is not the intent for the area.
“Should those federal funds become available for that project we would pursue that, but that is not what it is being designed for. It is strictly a multi-purpose room,” Craeger added.
The big question on the mind of the taxpayers is - what is this going to cost me? The pay off of the second of two bonds at the end of this year will help that, allowing the taxpayer to see slightly more than a 2 cent levy increase from the 2009 levy. Spearman says that based on current valuations, a $100,000 property would see a tax increase of $94.50 per year with this bond.
Myers added that he, too, had done some math and noted that the difference between the $4.995 million figure which Haumont supported, and the $5.83 million is only $135 per year on a $1 million property.
Several members of the board emphasized that timing is critical with this bond. The Qualified School Construction Bond must be issued by Dec. 31, or the district loses it. After that the district would be looking at an interest rate of about 3 1/3 percent for a project as opposed to the 1/2 percent the bond offers.
A large crowd was on hand for the meeting, but no one offered any input during the public comments section of the agenda. At the end of the discussion, the final vote remained 5-1 to proceed with the project. Craeger says he hopes to have drawings of a building proposal available in two or three weeks.
There were three other items on the agenda which concerned money, all in the form of contracts. Contracts for all three administrators were approved as follows: Ryan Hogue, $71,100 plus benefits; Kim Jonas, $79,000 plus benefits; and Ken Kujath, $93,500 plus benefits. Haumont was the lone no vote on all three contract approvals.
In a negotiated agreement with the BBEA, the board approved an increase of $200 to the base salary for teachers, along with changes to the extra duty schedule and the addition of one step on the extra duty schedule as a one-year negotiated agreement. Haumont was the lone no vote.
The wage scales for classified staff was also approved, with the compensation schedule being divided by employment classification for more control and flexibility among departments.Zlomke abstained on the motion to approve the classified staff compensation schedule, while the other board members all voted in favor.
In other business, the contract with Lunchtime Solutions was approved, as were the middle school and high school student/parent activity handbooks, sponsor/ coach activity handbook, teacher handbook, substitute handbook and emergency procedure manual.
The next regular meeting of the Broken Bow School Board will be Aug. 15 at 7 p.m.