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Bond Election Information / Frequently Asked Questions

To view Bond Election Brochure PDF (click link)

 
Frequently Asked Questions
To submit a question, please email your question to bill.biermann@usd352.org

** Click on question to show/hide the answer.

1.  Why would we move 7-8 to the high school?

 a.  There are several reasons for moving the 7th-8th grade to the High School.  With the lost of enrollment over the last decade the High School is under utilized.  We have several empty classrooms as well as other spaces.  The High School at its peak enrollment had over 500 students.  We currently have 264 students, and even with moving our 7-8 grades to the high school we will add another 140 students and have a total of about 400.  We felt with current budget restraints, no new funding coming, and aging facilities it was important to maximize the space we have.

b.  Secondly, due to budget cuts over the last several years, several programs and electives at the middle school level have been eliminated.  Art, woods, and other elective opportunities are no longer available and we want our students to have access to those programs.  By moving them to the HS where we have staff who can offer introductory classes in similar elective fields will increase educational opportunities for students.

c.  Similarly, we want to increase educational opportunities for students to achieve at an academic level more than a social level in a 7-12 configuration.  We want to challenge ourselves to think outside of the box as far as class offering for students.  For example, if a 7th grade student has demonstrated the ability to perform and be challenged in a HS Algebra class why wouldn't we let that happen.  By opening doors for students who want to achieve at a high level and be challenged, we feel the educational expectation for all students will rise.  I think you will begin to see classes offered for grade spans, instead of specific grades with many classes will probably have a grade span of 3 years.  So we might offer a class that normally we would offer as a freshmen level course.  However, under this platform that same class could be offered to 8th graders for acceleration and to 10th graders for remediation.  In other words, it would be offered for students 8-10.  We wouldn't have classes where a 7th grader was in another class with 11th or 12th graders, but could advance higher if that is what teachers and parents think is best for that particular student.

d.  Finally, at the end of the day, we will save dollars in closing a building and moving to a 7-12 concept.  Not only in annual savings as far as utilities and staffing, but also in overall upkeep.  Both the High School and Grant Junior High are old buildings with out of date infrastructure.  We would rather renovate and upgrade one building than two, and this move will allow us to do accomplish that

2.  Why did we chose to close Grant Jr. High?

 a.  Closing Grant Junior High with passage of the bond, was not and will not be an easy decision.  It is a good old building that has served this community and its student very well over the year.  Once the BOE decided to go to 3 buildings for PK-12 instead of 4, it really came down to Grant, North, or Central and which one of those were we going to utilize.

b.  We looked at all three buildings and what they had to offer.  One factor was space.  Central offered 27,060 sq. ft and 13 classrooms, Grant had 30,367 sq. ft and 13 classrooms, while North elementary had 30,420 sq. ft and 15 classrooms.  At the end of the day, North elementary has more classrooms and the appeal of a single level building for elementary age children.

c.  We also looked at renovation cost.  This is where the fact that Grant is a good "old building" hurts us.  It is built like a rock, and because of that when it comes to renovating that building, coupled with the 2 stories, the cost to renovate Grant JH (similarly Central) is much higher than North Elementary.

d.  Finally, North Elementary sets on a more viable piece of property now and in the future.  The lot is sets on provides more access to outdoor activities and simply is just larger than the other two sites.  If we were to ever expand, not that we plan to, North would provide the most space to do that.

3.  Why do we need tornado shelters?

This discussion is not a new one. For many years the BOE has looked at ways to improve the safety of the students during a crisis situation like an actual tornado. Different than Grant, Central, or the HS, West and North do not have basements, and thus are students literally squeeze into every interior space we have, which includes restrooms and closets. And yet, in the event of an actual tornado, I think all realize that the safety of our students would not be guaranteed.

4.  What do you mean by a tornado shelter?

Many have a vision of an underground concrete bunker. This is not the case, the storm shelters the school is looking at will meet all FEMA regulations and codes for a tornado shelter. The walls and ceiling will concrete. It will have a matching brick front that will tie in to our current building. The windows will be tornado proof. You can view what they look like at this website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iszy9k_hUbk The storm shelters will double as classrooms.

5.  Why the need for a new kitchen at the High School?

a. When we began to research the cost of renovation of the current kitchen, along with addressing code related issues, size, and space, we just determined that it was more feasible to build a new up to date kitchen to serve our students. 

b. As well, in order to have built in freezers and coolers complicated matters. In the new design, the built in freezers and coolers are actually on the outside of new structure but accessible from the inside. Should we have to fix or replace them down the road, this will make that much easier and less costly.

6.  How much money will we save by moving to three buildings?

a. That is a very complicated issue, but we will do the best we can to explain. 

b. By best estimates with considering Water, Sewer, Heat, Electricity, Sanitation, Staff, and general upkeep the savings is approximately $135,000 per year. In just utility cost it is around $60,000 per year. The other savings would be in Staff. Also consider, this is not just closing Grant JH, but also the district office and technology building. 

c. There is potential for other savings in teachers because of the 7-12 staffing and maximizing staff. However, many of those savings are not factored to this cost, because we might use that potential savings to offer better education for our students. For example: a. Hiring a teacher and starting a Vo-Ag program. 

d. It is our goal, that no one loses a job. We feel through normal attrition of employees, that we will be able to move people around to maintain employment with the district, especially when we look at a 2 year completion time frame.

7. What was the rationale behind the Sales Tax question?

a. There are primarily two reasons the BOE chose to pursue the sales tax on the April 2nd ballot. Initially, the BOE wanted to look to see if there were other avenues for payment of school facility projects besides having it all paid with property tax increases. We discovered that several other school and community projects across the State had used sales tax as another alternative. The second reason, at the time of investigating sales tax, the State of Kansas was set to decrease its sales tax by 1% on June 30, 2013. Two and half years ago the State of Kansas passed a 1% sales tax increase with .6 going to the State General Fund and .4 going to the State Highway Fund. This sales tax increase was passed with the premise of a three year term to automatically sunset on June 30, 2013. Through this analysis we thought it might be possible to pay for this project with some or all sales tax and not directly feel the tax increase because of the State sales tax decrease. Since then, Governor Brownback has recommended keeping the sales tax permanent in leau of the decrease in the State income tax. That proposal put a damper on our thoughts for funding the project with sales tax, but because of the positive support we heard from the community in our facility meetings in November and December we wanted to present it to the public as an option in April. Sixty-eight percent of the people who came to those meetings said they thought a combination of property tax and sales tax was the way to go, so we moved forward with that plan.

8. Will the Sales Tax increase hurt our local economy?

First, remember that the sales tax question is a separate ballot question, that really only allows the community to decide how they want to pay for the School Bond project. b. It is hard for any one person to qualify this question so we will leave it somewhat open. At the end of the day, a quarter cent sales tax increase (if everything else remains the same) would raise our current sales tax from 8.55% to 8.80%. So the question becomes will people drive to other communities for a quarter cent sales tax and do we price ourselves out of a competitive market? c. Here is one way to look at. Lets say I have to go by $100 worth of groceries, will I end up driving to Colby for what amounts to saving me $.25? If I had a larger purchase item, with a value of $400, would I drive 30 miles to make that purchase because now that purchase cost me $1.00 more here? d. So we go to larger ticket items, like a car. However, no matter where I purchase a car; Goodland, Wichita, Denver, ebay, etc., you end up tagging that car in Sherman County and paying the applicable sales tax here. In that case, the purchase of a vehicle and the sales tax involved is really no savings one way or the other. It would only be impacted by the cost of the vehicle as a percentage.

9. Why are their two different ballot questions for the School on the April 2nd ballot?

a. There will be two separate ballot questions regarding the School Facility project. The School Bond Project will read…………. 

Shall Unified School District No. 352, Sherman County, Kansas (Goodland), issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $14,995,000, to pay a portion of the estimated costs to (a) improve, renovate, equip and make additions to North Elementary School, including main entry improvements, classroom and storm shelter additions, technology improvements, ADA compliance upgrades, new roof, restroom remodeling and heating and air conditioning improvements; (b) improve, renovate, equip and make additions to West Elementary School, including main entry improvements, classroom and storm shelter additions, technology improvements, ADA compliance upgrades and restroom remodeling; (c) improve, renovate, equip and make additions to the High School, including kitchen addition and ADA compliance upgrades; and mechanical, plumbing, electrical and technology improvements; and (d) make all other necessary improvements appurtenant thereto; all pursuant to the provisions of K.S.A. 10-101 et seq.; K.S.A. 25-2018(f); K.S.A. 72-6761; and K.S.A. 75-2315 et seq.? The balance of the estimated costs ($445,000) shall be paid from funds on hand from a prior District financing. To vote in favor of the question submitted on this ballot, darken the oval to the left of the word “Yes”. To vote against it, darken the oval to the left of the word “No.” Yes No A vote of “yes” on the above question would approve a 12.0 mill increase (property tax) to fund the $14.9 million project. A vote of “no” means we will not move forward with the project.

b. There will another, totally separate, ballot question that will read…….. 

Shall the City of Goodland, Kansas, be authorized to impose a one-quarter percent (0.25%) City-wide general purpose retailers' sales tax (the “Educational Sales Tax”), the revenues from which to be used for educational purposes, including (a) assisting Unified School District No. 352, Sherman County, Kansas (Goodland) (the “District”) in the repayment of a portion of the principal of and interest on general obligation bonds to be issued by the District in an amount not to exceed $14,995,717 (the “District Bonds”) to pay the costs to improve and renovate educational facilities in the District (the “District Projects”), (b) providing for the payment of certain City infrastructure improvements to facilitate the use of District educational facilities, (c) pay costs of capital improvement projects of the District and (d) alleviating the property tax burden to the patrons of District, provided that imposition of such Educational Sales Tax shall be subject to the following conditions: (1) approval by the City electors of this proposition; (2) approval by District electors of a proposition authorizing the issuance of the District Bonds at an election held on April 2, 2013, and (3) collection of the Educational Sales Tax is to commence on July 1, 2013, or as soon thereafter as legally permissible, and expire 20 years after commencement, all pursuant to the provisions of K.S.A. 12-187 et seq., as amended. To vote in favor of the question submitted on this ballot, darken the oval to the left of the word “Yes”. To vote against it, darken the oval to the left of the word “No.” Yes No This ballot question is intended to give the community the opportunity to vote on how they want to fund the project and only matters if the School Bond Project (the $14.9 million ballot question) is passed. A vote of “Yes” on this sales tax question would lower the property tax increase from 12.0 mills to 8.75 mills and pick up the difference with the .25% sales tax increase. A vote of “no” would mean the project is funded with the 12.0 mill increase.

10. Is there anything in the plan to improve drop-off and pick up traffic flow at West and North?

a. There is not in this proposal. However, the district is aware of those problems and hopes to rectify them. The focus of this proposal was to get to three buildings for K-12. There are other issues, like the drop-off and pick-up points, the vocational-education building by the high school, and even Central as we plan to keep it. But we wanted to keep the focus on those three buildings and the price tag was already high enough.

11. What is the plan for Grant?

a. First of all, it is the desire of the BOE to sell the property and the building so that it is not a budget burden on the district. Ideally, if someone wants to purchase the property and have it benefit the community in some capacity, then we would like to help facilitate that. Several options have been discussed but are hard to plan for with the uncertainty of bond passage and then the 2 year construction plan if it does. We will work diligently to find a suitable buyer. We will not allow the building to deteriorate in our community. We are proud of it as well.

 

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