School board makes it official: it will seek up to $19.2 millionOne step closer … With a 7-0 vote, School Board members took another step toward asking voters to approve a bond this fall for $19.2 million.
By: Bonnie St. James, The Hastings Star-Gazette
One step closer …
With a 7-0 vote, School Board members took another step toward asking voters to approve a bond this fall for $19.2 million.
They passed a resolution directing Supt. Tim Collins to ask for the state’s approval to put the question before the voters in November.
The question, actually three questions, would probably be similar to those suggested at the board’s regular meeting July 15:
• $6.4 million for the “shell”: roof, windows and tuck-pointing;
• $8.8 million for the mechanical system at Christa McAuliffe Elementary and one wing at the middle school; and
• $4 million to remodel/move kindergarten classes to the elementary sites and add classes at the middle school for fifth grade.
Voters could vote to approve one, two or all three options, or turn down the bond in total.
Board member Dan Cater, who serves on the facilities committee for the district along with board members Amy Peltier and Leslie Nielsen, spoke about the 23-member community-based task force, who have spent several months looking at the needs of the district. The group has come out in support of a bond issue to maintain the properties the district owns.
“They actually proposed a $26-32 million bond issue, with a prioritized list of needs,” Cater said.
The board facilities committee met, he said, and “pruned the list” to the $19.2 million figure.
“Just maintenance to protect (the buildings),” Nielsen said.
Board member Amy Peltier, who serves on the facilities committee called the items on the bond issue “needs, not wants.”
“These are needed, absolute essentials,” she said. “That’s why I supported it.”
The 23-member group of residents supporting a bond issue felt much the same way, Collins said.
“It was loud and clear,” Collins said. “They don’t want to ask at this time either, but they feel it’s the board’s responsibility to ask (for the maintenance of the buildings).”
Kindergarten part of the issue again
The bond issue up for a vote this fall would again change the dynamics of the kindergarten program in the district. In the last bond issue, defeated two years ago, the kindergarten program would have moved in its entirety to one of the elementary schools. Approval of the bond this fall would divide the kindergarten classes among the three elementary schools, a move that would be more expensive than having the program in one place, but a move the voters appear to want. The expense would be offset by the re-use of Tilden for the district programs now housed in rented facilities, such as Community Education and Early Child/Family Education. The remodeling of Tilden for those purposes would be spread among several budgets.
Since the previous two bond issues, when voters were told Tilden couldn’t be enlarged because the district doesn’t own enough land surrounding it for approval from the state, the state has changed the law, allowing additions to the school.
“But,” Peltier argued, “do we want to put more money into Tilden when it probably won’t be around (as an educational piece) in 20 years? It’s better to put the money into the middle school. It’ll still be around.”
Board Member Vince O’Brien asked if the citizen task force knew the law had been changed when they made their recommendations.
“A couple of them were vocal about saving Tilden,” he said. “But we kept telling them it wasn’t an option.”
Collins replied that in polling several from the group he was told it didn’t change their minds, they’d stand behind their recommendations.
Board member Dan Greil asked a specific question about the reorganization.
“If we add the five classrooms at JFK and McAuliffe, does this mean there would be no more clustering of grades, that kindergarten would be back in all three (elementary) buildings?” Greil asked Collins.
“Yes, but we could still reorganize in the future,” Collins replied.More from around the web