District wants $25.3 million bond in May

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Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 12:00 am

Voters in the Springfield Platteview Community Schools will see a bond issue come before them for the second time within seven months.

This May’s bond proposal will be $10.4 million smaller than last November’s failed attempt.

At its Monday meeting, the school district’s Board of Education voted 6-0 to place a $25.3 million proposal on the May 13 ballot.

As opposed to the previous mail-in election, this vote will be part of the standard primary ballot in May at residents’ local polling places.

Coming out of its site committee meeting on Feb. 13, the district leaders were relatively certain that the $25.3 million package would be what the board would present to voters. The committee is made up of board members Brian Wichman, Kyle Fisher and Bob Icenogle, as well as Superintendent Brett Richards.

Richards said the committee went through details of the plan at the meeting with architects Pat Phelan and Mike Krof of the DLR Group.

“We went through the areas we could save money and where we couldn’t,” Richards said. “At the end of the meeting, our recommendation was a $25.3 million bond.”

The bond that will face voters includes some changes for each of the district’s four schools.

Springfield Elementary would see a redesigned front entrance for security, a new gym that will also serve as a tornado shelter, additional classrooms for preschool and special education, security locks on classroom doors and improvements to parking and traffic flow. The changes would also allow Springfield Elementary to get rid of its portable classrooms and to repurpose its old gym space for art and music classrooms and a media center.

Westmont Elementary would also gain a facility to serve as a gym and tornado shelter, as well as shed its portable classrooms. However, its biggest change would be a redesign of classrooms to include permanent walls and doors.

Westmont’s former gym space would be used for music and art classrooms and classrooms would be added to repurpose kindergarten, special education and preschool spaces. Its parking lot and traffic flow would be improved as well.

Platteview Central Junior High would also get permanent walls and doors, as well as upgrades to its infrastructure and security locks on classroom doors.

Platteview High would have a new media center at its front, with the old media center to be repurposed as classrooms for art, science and special education. It would also have some renovations to its locker rooms.

This bond’s inclusions look very similar to the November bond, but there are noticeable absences.

Platteview Central will not get a gym and its students will instead hold some of their practices at the two elementary schools’ new gyms after school hours.

Platteview High will not get a new administrative office. Neither school will get parking lot or traffic flow reforms. And the two schools will not be connected by a walkway.

“Because site work would be so expensive between the junior high and high school, we would have had to give up other things to get that,” Richards said. “The board has to make tough choices to narrow this thing down.”

After talking to district residents and sending out a survey, Richards and the board believe that the cost of last November’s bond issue is what prevented it from passing. That $35.7 million proposal lost by 419 votes, with 1,052 voting for it and 1,471 voting against it.

“The lost projects will stay on the district’s Master Facility Plan, and we will bring them back at some point in the distant future to consider,” Richards said in a press release. “The voters clearly told us we needed to trim the costs and scope of the last bond.”

The $25.3 million bond is nearly a 30 percent reduction from the November attempt. The district said this would result in an increase to the tax levy of about 16.5 cents compared to the estimated 24.5 cents from the first bond attempt.

At 16.5 cents per $100 assessed valuation, the owner of a $150,000 property would pay about $250 in additional taxes annually if the bond issue passes.

Richards said the current projection for the tax increase is closer to 15.7 cents, but the number being presented as 16.5 cents because costs associated with bonds are prone to fluctuating and it is better to overstate the cost than to undersell it.

Had voters approved last year’s attempt, taxes on the same property would have gone up by about $370 annually.

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