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Cherryvale USD447

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Get the Facts: Bond 2018

Why Now?
Bond Scope
Financial Facts
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

Why Now?

Our facilities are aging.  As they age, they become more and more challenging to maintain, and to provide the educational experience our children deserve.  This is particularly true of the original portion of Lincoln Central Elementary School.  Built in 1938, it is hitting the end of its useful life, and for many years, we’ve band-aided problems, including:

  • Pipes bursting and flooding the room, which ruined computers and classroom supplies (twice last year);
  • Fire in the Kindergarten room’s ceiling caused from old HVAC motor;
  • Water infiltration from leaking roofs and failing mortar into classrooms;
  • Lack of electrical outlets and capacity to support modern technology needs;
  • Antiquated climate control system – units are at the end of their life expectancy, and will freeze up or stop working altogether;
  • Occasional smell of sewage in the gym, likely caused by the 80-year-old sewer main running under the building;
  • …and more. 

These issues are not cosmetic, and will only increase in frequency and severity as the building continues to age. 

Beyond the elementary, we’ve seen a continued increase in the demand for our Career and Technical Education programming.  Unfortunately, without adequate space, we haven’t been able to fully accommodate this important training, and have even had to turn some students away due to lack of space to complete welding and construction projects.  With a minimal investment in this area, we can fully equip our students who aren’t interested in a traditional four-year university experience with the skills they need to thrive.  

Lastly, there are challenges in other buildings in our district, including safety and security and ADA issues that must be addressed. 


Listen to radio interviews

Bond Educational Flyers

Bond Scope

On June 25, 2018, the Board of Education unanimously approved a recommendation to put the following bond proposal on the November 6, 2018 General Election ballot:

Demolition of the 1938 building and renovations to the newer (1999) Lincoln Central Elementary School site, to include:

  • A controlled-access entry;
  • New areas for preschool through fourth grade;
  • New areas for special education;
  • A tornado safe room that will also function as an educational classroom;
  • A new gymnasium with limited seating for an estimated 500 spectators and support spaces for physical education and other school and community functions; and
  • Improvements to the playground, parking, and bus drop-off areas.

Renovations and improvements to Thayer K-8 School, to include:

  • Remodeling of existing bathrooms to allow handicap access (ADA compliance); and
  • Replacement of gymnasium floor

Thayer K-8 School

Renovations to Cherryvale Middle-High School, to include:

  • Construct, equip, and furnish an addition to the existing Career and Technical Education shop area;
  • An improved front entrance with greater security features;
  • Remodel two existing restrooms for ADA compliance; and
  • Replace the bleachers in the gymnasium to improve safety and handicap access (ADA compliance)

Renovations to Cherryvale Middle-High School


 Financial Facts

Total cost: $12,715,000.

This bond proposal would require an increase of 14.9 mills, or $7.14 a month for a $50,000 home.  This is a significant reduction from the previous 2016 bond proposal.  If approved, the state of Kansas would also fund 46% of the construction and financing costs. 

Currently, USD 447 ranks the lowest of our neighboring 34 counties in school district mill rate, and this increase would keep our tax burden at a competitive rate with our peers.

Cost of Individual Projects


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Additional FAQ's

When is the USD 447 Cherryvale Thayer bond election?

The bond question will be on the November 6, 2018 General Election ballot.

What is the deadline to register to vote in that election? 

October 16, 2018. 

Who is eligible to vote?

Any person who lives within the Cherryvale Thayer School District boundary and is registered to vote may participate in the bond election.

What will the bond fund?

 Launch the second image gallery player
5b63638995875Lincoln Central Elementary School:
Lincoln Central Elementary School:

Lincoln Central Elementary School:

  • A controlled-access entry;
  • New areas for preschool through fourth grade;
  • A tornado safe room that will also function as an educational classroom;
  • A new gymnasium with limited seating for an estimated 500 spectators and support spaces for physical education and other school and community functions; and
  • Improvements to the playground, parking, and bus drop-off areas.

Thayer K-8 School:

  • Remodeling of existing bathrooms from handicap access (ADA compliance); and
  • Replacement of gymnasium floor

Cherryvale Middle-High School:

  • Construct, equip, and furnish an addition to the existing Career and Technical Education shop area;
  • An improved front entrance with greater security features;
  • Remodel two existing restrooms; and
  • Replace the bleachers in the gymnasium to improve handicap access (ADA compliance)

How will the new bond affect the total mill levy?

The bond proposal will increase the mill levy by 14.9 mills, or $7.14 a month for a home valued at $50,000. 

How much of this bond will the State of Kansas pay for?

The state of Kansas will pay for 46 percent of this bond issue. 

If our home value is more than $50k, what will we be paying?

$30,000 Home: $4.28 a month

$75,000 Home: $10.71 a month

$50,000 Commercial Building: $15.52 a month

Per Acre of Dryland Farm (Annually): $.63

Per Acre of Native Grass (Annually): $.34

How long has it been since the district passed a bond to improve our facilities? 

1996

How many years will this new levy be in place/how long will it take for the district to pay this off?

Thirty years. 

Why are we rebuilding on the existing Lincoln Central site, rather than another part of town?

Over the last few years, the district looked at several possible locations for new construction of an elementary school, but ultimately felt as though the current Lincoln Central location offered both the most centrally-located site, and greatest opportunity for cost savings.  The cost to purchase land, provide necessary utility services, and rebuild sufficient square footage for a pre-K-6th building was deemed to be cost-prohibitive.

What new programs or expansions will be offered at CMHS if this bond passes? 

With the 5000 sq ft expansion of the CTE woods construction and ag construction shops, students will be able to complete additional instructional modules, enabling them to earn a variety of industry-recognized credentials which can’t currently be offered due to lack of space.  They will also be able to gain experiences on several new pieces of equipment that will be added.  A sheet metal component will be added to the existing construction programming.  In addition, shop safety will be improved.  See CTE SHOP EXPANSION for full details.

What will be done to work through any environmental issues that may come with the digging up of Carson Street? 

Prior to construction, soil testing will take place and an environmental engineer will ensure all environmental regulations are followed.  There is money in a contingency fund built into the bond project to deal with such hazards if they are found.  If none are present, the contingency money can be used for other building improvements within the scope of the bond, such as increased parking at Lincoln Central.

How is parking being improved? 

The plans at Lincoln Central include a small parking lot and drive for parents to drop off students.  Additional parking is planned, which can be completed at the time of the bond projects if contingency dollars are not needed for other unforeseen issues.  If this is not the case, it will be completed in the future using Capital Outlay funds.

If we are looking at buying property to the east of Lincoln Central, why are we not looking to buy to the south instead? 

The proximity of the lots to the east are ideal to keep the school compact for student proximity to services and ease of supervision.   Building to the south would not create a desirable school layout.  In addition, the district only had to negotiate with one property owner to acquire an option to buy the desired property to the east.

How will the safety of construction area be maintained? 

The construction zone and materials will be enclosed with a six-foot fence and locked gate.  In addition, any exposed rebar will be capped at night, open holes covered, keys removed from equipment, and other potential hazards mitigated in the event that someone should climb the fence.

What will the plan be to minimize the disruption to residents next to the construction site?  

Crossland works in a lot of neighborhoods and they receive very little complaints.  We received very positive references on neighborhood safety, appearance, and working with residents when we selected Crossland to do our work.  Crossland will maintain communication with families in the area regarding the work taking place if it will be done outside of the normal work hours.  Construction will typically take place during the hours of 7:00am to 5:00.  For several months there will be equipment back-up alarms, equipment and tools running, movement of equipment and materials, impact tools, etc.  There’s nothing that we can really do about that if we want any sort of work done on the school.  We acknowledge that there will be a level of inconvenience to those nearby, the disruption is a short-term inconvenience for a long-term gain for the community and school district.

How will the builders ensure that where the new building meets the old that a structural problem won’t occur before we pay for the bond? 

The joining of old and new buildings is common (note that there is currently a joining of the 1930’s building to the annex without a problem).  Engineers will ensure proper dirt compaction and DLR/CGA will design the building connections and Crossland will construct per those details.

Where will the building materials be kept during construction? 

Because we have a limited lay-down area, we will be utilizing “just in-time” delivery of materials.  They will be able to be kept on-site or nearby.  We will not be taking the playground for the storage of materials.

I’ve noticed on the K-4 side of the building, doors that will likely be used as fire exits.  When there are fire drills, will those children be walking all over my property? 

Students exit the building in an orderly fashion and stay in lines.  Typically, the will assemble on the sidewalks around the school or on the playground.  If evacuation is necessary, they will walk in a line to the designated evacuation site. 

What are your plans to keep the residents right next to the construction up-to-date with what is going on?  How often will we be notified? 

We understand that people in the immediate neighborhood will want to know what is taking place.  The building superintendent from Crossland will communicate with residents.  In addition, a monthly update will be given to the board of education.  If residents wish to receive a copy of this information, the superintendent can provide them with a copy.

What will happen with the telephone poles, electric lines, etc that is right next to the property line? 

The district has communicated with all utilities.  The easements will be relocated elsewhere on the district’s property and those utilities moved as necessary.

Why do we need a gym that seats 500? 

The gym will seat approximately 500 (maybe a few less).  With 350+ students and 60 staff members, this provides room for a few visitors.  When viewing a program on the gym stage, a portion of the seating in the corner will be out of the line of site, so this extra seating makes it useable for school programs without setting up floor seating.  During a school program, floor seating will be used for patrons and students and staff will sit in bleachers while awaiting their turn on stage.  The retractable seating makes efficient use of this floor space that allows for two practice courts when the seats are retracted.  Seating for 500 is also a sufficient number for athletic events that may be held. 

How many bathrooms will be in the new school? 

There will be more bathrooms than currently exist.  The pre-K and kindergarten rooms will have bathrooms in the classrooms.  There will be additional bathrooms near the gym and throughout the building.  The facility will have at least the number of bathrooms dictated by today’s building codes.

Please explain the amount of dollars given by the state towards the bonds.

The state will pay approximately 46% of the cost to pay the bond principal and interest over the life of the bonds.  It could fluctuate slightly if the district’s property valuation per student fluctuates in relation to that of other districts in the state.  But the result would be to keep the taxpayers burden level.  With the state aid, the owner of a $50,000 home can expect to pay $7.14 monthly for the bond.  The state has never failed to honor the aid promised to voters at the time a bond was passed.  However, legislators could change the law and reduce the amount offered on future bonds should this bond not pass.

Has the district researched grants to help pay for the facilities? 

There are very few grants available for construction of facilities, and most grants that do exist are for only a few thousand dollars.  The district has taken advantage of grants to help pay for things when such grants are available.  For example, the district obtained grant funding to help with the cost to replace the fire alarm at CMHS this year.  The district took advantage of an electrical rebate program to obtain a few thousand dollars when it upgraded to more efficient HVAC system at CMHS last year.  The district will continue to pursue grant funds to help with projects around the district, but a bond must be passed to assure that funds are guaranteed to be available to pay for the construction planned.  The federal grants that once paid for FEMA storm shelters have ended.

Why hasn’t LC been maintained instead of just letting it go until the cost of repair is so much? 

If the district wished to renovate instead of build, the minimum cost at LC would be 8.5 million.  Much of this is required to bring the building up to code.  The only way such a project would be possible would be to pass a bond.  The district has not invested substantial dollars in such code upgrades for two reasons.  1) the amount of money necessary to complete such upgrades is more than the building is worth (6 million according to insurance value.  This low value means that we might have more money loaned against the building than insurance would allow us to insure it for.  Typically, you would not spend more than 60% of the value of a structure in renovations) and 2) the high cost to maintain and operate the old building.  The LC facility has been relatively well-maintained, with the exception of the water infiltration issue.  This issue is due to the original construction which failed to leave the typical moisture barrier gap between the structural wall and the exterior brick.  Thus, the building wicks water to the inside through the walls.  The ongoing maintenance cost would be over $200,000 every five years to tuck-point and seal the building.  The district does not have this level of funding available for such on-going maintenance.  Seeing a new building as the most economical option for the long-run, the district in recent years has chosen to let things come to the end of their life expectancy without replacing them.  For example, the HVAC units are at the end of useful life.  They have not been replaced in anticipation of passing a bond issue.

Why does the board say our taxes will go down over the life of the bond if our tax base increases?  

The 14.9 mills required to repay the bond been calculated assuming a zero percent increase in total property valuation of the district over the life of the bond.  This is very conservative since property usually appreciates at least slightly over time.  If the property valuation of the district does increase over time, then it would spread the bond payment over a larger tax base.  This would cause the mill rate paid on the bond to decrease slightly.

Why is the board paying more for the property east of Lincoln Central than it is worth? 

No doubt, the public understands that when you want something that someone else didn’t have for sale, a premium is required to entice the owner to sell.  The real question is, “WHY WAS THE PROPERTY WORTH IT?”  Given that the district had determined that building on a totally new location was cost prohibitive, the alternatives required students to be in mobile classrooms on the existing playground for 1 or 2 years.  If the district renovated the building, students would be in mobile units on the playground for 2 years.  If the district tore down the existing building and built in its footprint, the students would be in mobile units for at least a year.  During this time, they would be in a substandard learning environment, have no gym, no playground, and difficult access to a suitable shelter in the event of a storm.  The cost to rent the mobile classrooms for 1 year was $170,000.  Thus it seemed worth this price to avoid putting the students in this situation.  In addition, the land gave us something permanent for our money, got the construction further away from where the students were learning, avoided the disruption of moving in and out of the mobile classrooms, and acquired a way to create a safer student drop off zone and additional parking.

I don’t see an auditorium in the new plan.  Where will programs be held? 

There is not an auditorium in the new plan.  Given that the current auditorium was used for programs only 4-5 times per year and considering the cost of building and maintaining such a space, the vision committee recommended a stage in the end of the gym.  In order to maximize value, the stage also doubles as a band/music classroom space.  A sound-proof moveable wall will separate this space from the gym.  When a program is conducted, the wall will open into the gym.  The bleachers as well as floor seating can be used for programs.  During a music program, parents would be seated in chairs on the floor in front of the stage and students would sit in the bleachers as they await their turn on stage.

How many students utilize the CTE shops currently? 

96 unduplicated high school students are currently enrolled in ag programs.  61 students are enrolled in construction.  In addition, 25-30 middle school students will take ag classes each semester, and 8-12 middle school students will take a construction introductory class each quarter.  This means 50% of our high school students use the ag shop each year.  Approximately 30% of our students use the woods shop each year. 

How long will a pre-engineered building last? 

The metal building wall panel and roof should last 50 years with proper maintenance before needing replacement.  Proper maintenance involves keeping gutters cleaned out, not allowing condensation from rooftop units to run down roof sheets, etc.  The roof will last longer than any other type of roof material such as a TPO roof system.  The steel structure of the metal building should last forever as long as water is not getting on steel that could cause rust.  

How often is the gym used at LC? 

Approximately 375 students and 50 staff members use this facility each day.  The gym is used each morning as the gathering place for all students prior to the start of school when they sit in the bleachers before first bell.  It is used constantly throughout the day as those children have 35 minutes each for physical education.  The gym is also used before and after school, evenings, and weekends by CMHS students and Cherryvale Rec participants for practices and games.  It is also utilized afterschool by the Kansas Reading Roadmap afterschool program.  The new facility plans call for retractable bleachers.  This will enable even more usage by creating space for a practice court which will allow students to have indoor recess and PE taking place simultaneously (this is not possible in the current facility).  It would also allow CMHS and Cherryvale Rec to hold to practices at the same time if desired.

Why are we worried about ADA compliance?  Isn’t this building grandfathered? 

No, we are not grandfathered against ADA compliance.  Schools are legally required to provide equal access to students and patrons.  We are allowed to make reasonable accommodations.  For example, if a 4th grade in a wheelchair enrolls tomorrow, we would have to move a class of younger students to the 2nd floor and move a fourth grade class downstairs as an accommodation.  Students receiving special education services can also demand educational spaces that are the equivalent of their non-disabled peers.  Utilizing old dressing rooms on-stage and tables set up on the auditorium floor does not provide equal educational opportunity.  These situations must be addressed.

Why are we building a gym for 500 people? 

We don’t need a big athletic facility.  The new gym at LC wll be used daily for elementary PE.  Additionally, it is the only location where we can seat the entire student body and faculty.   With 375 students plus staff, this is not excessive seating rating.  When students assemble in the morning in the gym, it is desirable to have some empty rows for teachers to walk among the students.   

 

I heard there’s no longer state aid available for athletic facilities.  Are we getting aid for the new gym at LC? 

The State of Kansas no longer provides any state aid for athletic facilities.  However, the state deems a gym of this size and seating capacity necessary for elementary PE, student assemblies and programs at a school with this enrollment.  Therefore, we will receive our full state aid on this educational space.

 

With a new building, won’t there be energy savings?  How will that money be used?  

Yes, we anticipate significant utility savings.  These savings will be applied toward our other maintenance needs and projects that weren’t part of the bond.  That money will help save up for roof replacements, HVAC replacements at Thayer and on the LC annex, among other things.  Another way to look at it, we won’t have to take money away from instruction to pay for these maintenance needs.

 

In the 2016 bond election, there was a band room addition.  Have you given up on solving the noise contamination issue with the band at CMHS? 

This is still a high priority of the board.  We are currently researching affordable solutions to improve the sound quality in and around the band area.  There are a number of acoustical products that can be applied to the walls and ceilings designed for exactly this purpose.   Solutions of this nature can be addressed using our normal operating funds or capital outlay.

 

Does the city sewer main really run under Lincoln Central? 

Yes, we have been told by the city that both the annex and original building sit over a city sewer main.  The sewer is approximately 3 feet beneath the floor of the locker rooms.  Part of the bond project will be to re-route the city sewer to the perimeter of the school’s property.  This will save the city the expense of someday replacing this sewer line.  An advantage to Cherryvale residents of doing this work with the bond instead of through the city, is that the state will pay 46% of the costs through state aid on the bond projects. 

 

Does the quality of our school facilities impact our ability to hire teachers? 

Yes.  While we have been very fortunate to hire quality teachers, it is getting harder and harder.  We have had teachers turn down offers for employment who actually cited the small size of the classrooms or the lack of new facilities as reasons for declining our job offers.

 

On the drawing of the Lincoln Central addition, there is a green courtyard space in the center.  What is that?  How are you going to mow it?  There will be an outdoor learning space

It serves several purposes.  1 – it allows for windows and natural light in the adjacent classrooms, 2 – it will be an outdoor classroom space for assorted uses.  While it is green in the drawing, there will not be grass there.  It will be a man-made surface.

 

What is projected to happen with student enrollment?  Is there room for growth in these plans? 

Our student enrollment is declining slightly, but economic forecasts show that rural decline in Kansas is now reaching a pretty stable point.  So we aren’t expecting significant enrollment decline.  What would we do if a major industry comes to the area?  The new building will increase the size of classrooms.  Our current class sizes are 15-18 students.  There would easily be room to add 1 or 2 more students to each class.  This means we could absorb a 10% increase in population without needing to add rooms.  Should we desire to add a pre-school classroom or something years down the road, it would be a tight fit, but there is some room to add some space without taking away from the playground area.

 

Do the other buildings (high school and Thayer) currently have FEMA approved tornado safe rooms? 

They do not.  However, the areas the children move to in a storm at Thayer and CMHS not have the combination of water, electric, steam pipes, and heavy overhead equipment present.  These things exist in the area being used at Lincoln.  Also, the tornado area at Lincoln Central cannot be accessed by students or adults in a wheelchair.  It is also important to note that the storm shelter proposed at LC is a high wind rated tornado shelter, but not a FEMA rated shelter.  FEMA shelters are for tornados, hurricanes, etc. and must have bathrooms and other safety features that add to the expense.  The LC shelter will be rated to withstand a tornado but will not be designated as a FEMA shelter.

 

This might sound dumb, but what if the bond doesn't pass? If we as a district can't make the repairs, does that mean that somewhere down the line our building closes and teachers will all be out of jobs?

I think the more immediate risk than the building being condemned is just the slow loss of students as families move away and those coming into the area find communities with newer schools more attractive.  While bright and shiny isn’t always the best, visual appearance has much to do with how students (and employees) pick schools.

 

If it doesn't pass, what do we do about the building? Would the building be condemned? 

If the bond doesn’t pass, we will have to raise out Capital Outlay the remaining 2.5 mills and use it to make band-aid repairs for as long as we can. Any building can eventually be condemned.  I think the risk of a lawsuit for ADA violations is a greater risk than the building being condemned.

How much is it going to cost the district fiscally to meet all the requirements and get our buildings safe and up to code?   Once you do any major remodeling you have to bring everything up to code.  The cost is 8.5 million today and goes up with inflation every year.  How much will our taxes increase because we have to raise the mill levy to be able to pay for the renovation costs? 

Unfortunately, due to the 8.5 million price tag, there is no way to address the issues at LC without passing a bond.  The ADA remodeling alone is $1.7 million and likely can’t be completed with students using the building.  If the bond doesn’t pass, we will raise capital outlay 2.5 mills and do band-aid repairs when we must. 

Why did we go away from the plan that put the elementary west of the HS & leave the newer addition of LC a K-2 building? 

First, there was never “a plan” to do this, but it was an idea some people were discussing.  The only official plan has been the one put forward by the Vision Committee and voted upon by the board of education.  With that said, here are some reasons that idea didn’t gain traction.  There are only 6 classrooms in the annex of LC.  It was not possible to make a school there unless you added space for an office, special ed, a gym, etc.  (School needs an office, gym, library, special ed, music areas – you get the idea)  The operational costs would be significant and require travel of PE, music, special ed teachers, a principal, etc.  The most cost-effective solution from both a construction and operational standpoint was to build next to the annex and utilize it in its current configuration.

Why did we purchase the lots west of HS? 

When the district bought the property, we said we had no immediate plans for its use, and we didn’t.  However, the time to buy property is when an owner wants to sell, not when we decided we have a need for it, so the board wanted to acquire it while it was for sale without paying a premium to get it.  The board thought it might have potential uses for bond-related items if we owned it and could see other uses down the road if it were not part of a bond plan.  Now that the Vision Committee and board have finalized a bond plan, we know how this property can fit into the bigger picture of our needs: 

  • IMMEDIATE PLANS (next 1-5 years)
  • Gravel parking area – replaces parking lost due to shop expansion
  • Fencing for project and material storage (hope to do immediately with bond proceeds if bids come in low enough on main project)
  • Develop community garden and greenhouse (as grant funds are obtained)
    • BIG FUTURE DREAM PLANS – (no time table, not in the current budget)
  • Construction students build metal building  (as funding available / maybe could pay for with proceeds from sale of student projects.  This is a long-term dream.)
    • Enclosed materials (woods and metal) storage
    • 2nd paint finish room
  • 2nd Gym – We have no plans for this at this time, but it is another possible use for the land when we are able to get caught up on all our other facility issues.  Someday this could be a capital outlay project or someone might come along and donate money for this purpose.  One never knows. 

Have we done (at least rough) estimates of how much repairs would costs to update all the building up to code/repairs vs the cost of new buildings etc. to provide that data to citizens that are on the fence. At least that way they can look at both costs and decide if they want to spend millions on repairs that will (at best estimate) on last 5-10 years versus a new building that will last longer? 

The new building will be $11.1 million.  Remodeling would cost 8.5 million and does not include new windows, can’t fix foundation, etc.  In addition, another $250,000 will be required every five years to keep the water from coming through the walls again.  However, we don’t have $250,000 in our Capital Outlay funds to do this, so we’d have to raise capital outlay at least 1 additional mill to generate the money to seal the building every 5 years.  The new building will also have additional savings for utilities and will be essentially maintenance free for 50 years (HVAC will need an upgrade at 25 years).  Also, with this level of renovation, students would have to be educated in modular trailers for approximately 2 years while the work was completed.

The gym floor at Thayer, why are we not fixing the bleachers to be code but the whole gym floor which isn't in that bad of shape. I can see more older spectators coming if we appropriate seating for them.  I don't feel that the floor is in that bad of shape. 

We have a new flier out that we shared with the residents at Thayer that addresses this topic.  At the same time the bond fixes the floor, we will use Capital Outlay or Maintenance funds to re-work the bleachers to create an ADA compliant floor space and improve the safety of the steps going up the center.  The Thayer patrons on the Vision Committee didn’t want to take those bleachers out and replace them with retractable bleachers which would cause loss of all the storage under them. And the floor is in really bad shape.  There are many spots that dip down when students run on it.  These spots are where the floor is rotten underneath and/or the spaces have worn out.

What are we really going to do if this bond doesn't pass. A lot of people are very worried about how we can fix what needs to be fixed. 

There is no way to address this level of needs without a bond.  Additionally, the state now has a limit on how much money in state aid can be applied for each year.  There are several large schools preparing to run bonds the next several years.  The money is first-come first-serve, but if it is all asked for on July 1, then the state goes to a list of criteria.  If we fail this bond, we will be in the back of the line.  Likely, we will have to wait 3 years until we could apply again.  During that time, inflation of 3-8% annually will eat up all projects except addressing LC.  Since 15 mills is the most any community like ours ever carries in bond and interest, it would be unlike the district could pass a bond for any more than that.  So, this current plan is the most project the community will ever get for this amount of tax. 

I would like to know if any of the plans would make our schools more energy efficient like led lighting which uses less energy and need to be replaced less often and is more visually friendly to those with special needs. Well insulated buildings, and faucets that would turn off would also save money on monthly finances

Yes, the new additional at LC will be LED lighting and be built with high R-value insulation, so there will be quite a bit of energy savings from all the changes moving from a 1930’s space to one built in the 21st Century.  Depending upon how the bids come in for bathroom remodeling at Thayer and CMHS, if the faucets get upgraded, we might get some water-saving features there.  Top priority is the work necessary to make the bathrooms ADA accessible.  Once that is covered, then we may get to add on some additional upgrades.

Why is the bond on a 30 year repayment plan?

Is that something the state mandates or is it something that we can decide on. Is there a plan to repay that back quicker than 30 years?  Bonds are usually 20, 25, or 20 years in length.  Based upon statistics in KS, no community (unless they are experiencing rapid growth) carries more than 15 mills for bond and interest repayment.  So, spreading it over 30 years was necessary to keep the yearly cost down to 14.9 mills or less.  The good news is that we can, and hope, to repay it early.  If property valuation of the district goes up over time, we can lower the mill rate or repay the bond faster (or a combination of those two).  Interest rates are still pretty good now, but if interest rates go down, we can refinance for a lesser interest rate, which would result in a lower mill rate or faster repayment of the bond.

Has USD 447 contacted the City of Cherryvale to see if they would be willing to assist in helping fund the bond? If yes, what have they agreed to do?  

The city manager and I had a brief conversation about how it’s not possible.  In Independence, where they have much more retail business than we do, they did use sales tax to help repay a portion of the bond.  However, it is now causing a real problem because sales tax revenue is down so the district is having to pay far more than they had planned on when the sold the bond to the public.   Also, the City of Cherryvale itself has already cut its budget to keep its taxes as low as they can.  They have any money to give away.  Feel free to ask the City Manager these same questions that deal with the city.

Has USD 447 contacted local businesses and/or area businesses/ donors to help in funding the bond monies to ease the burden on the citizens? 

 Given that commercial property is taxed at a little over twice the rate of residential property, I doubt they would be interested in paying even more.  Also, local businesses already heavily donated to enhance instructional and athletic programs in the school.  They are about tapped out.

Has the school entertained ideas of large fundraising to, again, ease the burden on the citizens? 

 The schools already do a significant amount of fundraising.  And it you think about it, whether you paid for a fundraiser item or paid your taxes, you've still spent money to support the school.  I guess the difference would be that it is voluntary.  However, through fund-raising it is unlikely we could raise enough to significantly change the mill rate.  Also, we have to be able to make our bond payment.  Fundraising is not a reliable source of money, so we are required by law to calculate the amount of taxes necessary to repay the bond.  I'm also not sure how excited parents and community would be if they were constantly be hit up with fund-raisers.  However, we will be auctioning off memoribila from Lincoln Central before it is torn down.  We plan to use these funds to help with historic preservation touches to incorporate some elements from the 1930’s building into the new structure.

What sort of things do you have planned to save some of the history of the old building?

We’ve been very frugal with the budget and don’t have money built in for these sorts of things, but we are hoping that by auctioning off items (theater seats, bleacher seats, bricks, things we find in storage) that we can raise money to do some nice things.  For example, wood from the stage can be incorporated as decorative accent in a display case or used to frame the new gym stage.  Theater seats can be displayed or incorporated in some manner.  The statue of Lincoln should have a prominent place of honor to be displayed in the new school.  Once the bond passes, we’ll assemble a committee of alumni to assist us with this type of planning.

With the cost of taxes seeming to never go down, has the school system worked with the city to potentially lower the mils and increase the sales tax with a portion of that increase going to the school. (Right now Cherryvale has at 9.5% on sales tax. If they increase it to say 9.75, then that quarter percent would go directly to the school to assist in the repayment to make the mil increase less for the citizens.)  Keep in mind that the school gets 46% aid on the property tax we generate.  If we pay for it in some other manner, we pay that portion off with 100% local dollars, so it would take twice as much local money to repay the same debt.  Secondly, regardless of the source of the tax, it is still a tax being paid by the citizens.  Because Cherryvale has very little retail business that generates sales tax, the percentage of increase would have to be far greater than a quarter of a percent to fund the bond.  That would likely cause even less people to shop in Cherryvale, and losing our grocery and hardware store would be devastating to the community.  However, if we did wish to pursue this idea, a quarter of a percent of sales tax would only lower the bond's mill rate by about a mill.  Then if people stop shopping in Cherryvale b/c of the increase or if a store closed, we would have to raise the property tax mill rate above what was promised to make up the difference. 

Who can I contact for more information?

Contact Superintendent Shelly Kiblinger at (620) 336-8139 or skiblinger@usd447.org, visit our website at www.usd447schools.org, or follow us on facebook at Cherryvale-Thayer Schools USD 447 if you have any additional questions.