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Prescott community surveys results underway

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By Roger Hulne

Prescott School Superintendent

PRESCOTT--This past spring, the Prescott School Board approved conducting a representative community survey to measure the level of support for some possible solutions to the district space needs.

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Since then, the school board hired a construction manager and architect to assist the facilities committee in developing specific plans with that community input in mind. Those parameters include design elements, tax tolerance and general understanding of the space constraints.

With a more focused building solution, the school board conducted a second survey, which was completed in early December. Like the spring survey, this effort included a sample of 300 people who represent the demographics of our voters. This representation provides the district with information to assist in the final recommendation and potential referendum question.

In May, 59 percent of the respondents were generally in favor of a new high school, 32 percent were opposed and 12 percent were undecided. In November, 45 percent were in favor of building a new high school, 38 percent were opposed and 19 percent were undecided.

That reduced level of support can be attributed to many factors, including economics, politics, communication of issues and timing. Overall, of the people surveyed, more are in support of a new high school than opposed to it.

Along with reduced levels of support for the solution, the tax tolerance decreased. The survey results in May indicated support of a building solution at $189 per $100,000 of assessed value. That level of support would provide borrowing of approximately $29,615,000.

Based on the fall survey results, the financial consultant indicated support for the cost of a bond could potentially happen at or below $172 per $100,000 of assessed value. That level of support would provide borrowing of approximately $28,000,000.

The fall survey also measured the level of support for an increase in property taxes to raise operating funds. Overall, support for this option was weak. An increase of $27 per $100,000 of assessed value was supported from those surveyed, which would provide $175,000 in revenue.

The facilities committee used the survey results in designing a basic layout incorporating the lower tax threshold represented by that follow-up survey. The finance committee will also use the survey results to consider financing options and developing a plan for ongoing operational expenses related to a new school building.

The school district feels it is extremely important to gather as much information from the public as possible to assure the best solution and the best value. Space needs are reaching a critical point and it is imperative a viable and well-researched solution is presented.

The school board will receive a recommendation from the facilities committee at this Wednesday’s regular meeting. A community forum will be held during the first full week of January to present the recommendation and address any questions from district residents. Further information on that opportunity will be available soon.

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