Residents of the Springfield Platteview school district will have plenty of opportunities to learn more about a proposed $35.7 million school bond issue in the coming days.
Supporters of the measure have formed a committee to spread the word in advance of the Nov. 12 mail-in ballot deadline. The group, called Securing All Future Education, or SAFE, began going door-to-door last week, delivering brochures and answering questions.
The group also created a Facebook page, collecting more than 160 likes or followers in less than a week.
“The main thrust of what we're doing is informing our neighbors and community members about the issues with the school buildings,” said Darren Carlson, a committee member.
The Springfield Platteview school board voted unanimously in September to place the bond proposal before voters. The bond issue, if adopted, would cover a number of safety and security upgrades as well as additions and renovations to the district's 40- and 50-year-old buildings.
Brenda Sherman, the school board's president and the mother of four Springfield Platteview students, said the district has worked over the years to maintain facilities. That maintenance, however, isn't keeping pace with buildings' needs.
“With the current low bond market and reasonable building costs, time is crucial to pursue a major facility upgrade,” she said in a statement.
Neither Sherman, Carlson nor school officials were aware of any organized opposition to the bond issue.
The proposal calls for tornado shelters at each school. An addition connecting the junior and senior high schools would serve as a tornado shelter and a multipurpose room with locker rooms and fitness facilities.
The connection also would make for safer transit of students and faculty going between the two buildings. Students and staff occasionally slip and fall on the sloped path during the winter.
The proposal also would provide for secure front entrances at all four schools and for enclosing open classrooms at Westmont Elementary and the junior high. Also included are infrastructure upgrades and improvements aimed at meeting modern educational needs, such as updates to media centers and science classrooms and labs.
“Every building has a useful life,” Carlson said, “and these need to be updated.”
Carlson said the committee's Facebook page includes photos showing building needs. With his oldest child in elementary school, he said, he wasn't aware of the needs in other buildings until he toured them. The photos are intended to help inform those who might not be able to participate in tours.
“For a lot of people, seeing is believing,” he said. “If we can't take them to the school, we can certainly show them online.”
Carlson said about two dozen district residents have been actively involved in the committee. Enrollment is up, he said, as is interest in the school district. The house next to his sold in a day, he said.
A 6 percent increase in enrollment boosted Springfield Platteview to 1,012 students this year, up from 952 last year.
Under the $35.7 million proposal, homeowners would pay an additional 25.2 cents per $100 of assessed value, or an increase of $252 a year in property taxes on a home valued at $100,000 for tax purposes. Springfield Platteview's current $1.08 property tax levy is the second-lowest in the 11-district Learning Community.
A question-and-answer sheet posted on the district's website notes that the district has been unable to set aside funds for large projects. This year, the district will lose more than $1.8 million in tax dollars to the Learning Community through its common levy.
The school district has scheduled its own informational meetings and tours for Saturday at all four school buildings.
The presentation and question-and-answer sessions will be held from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at each building — Platteview High School, Platteview Central Junior High School, Springfield Elementary and Westmont Elementary. Building tours will follow from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
School district administrators will be available to answer questions at each building during parent-teacher conferences Wednesday and Thursday. District residents can also schedule appointments with Superintendent Brett Richards to discuss school bond questions by calling 402-592-1300, and the school board will set aside time during its 7 p.m. work session Oct. 28 to answer questions from the public.
The district also is planning to mail informational brochures this week, and information on the bond issue and the facilities plan are available online at www.springfieldplatteview.org and www.springfield-platteview-bond.com.
“I know it's a large bond,” Sherman said, “but we need a lot of things.”