Two questions eyed for November school vote in EllsworthA proposal from the long-range planning committee to present two ballot questions to district voters in the November election was discussed by the Ellsworth School Board.
By: Bill Kirk, Pierce County Herald
A proposal from the long-range planning committee to present two ballot questions to district voters in the November election was discussed by the Ellsworth School Board Monday.
One of the questions would involve a facilities-type issue, addressing major maintenance projects, and the other would call for a levy override, Superintendent Barry Cain said. The referendum remains to be finalized.
In light of the present $250,000 override expiring after the end of this school year, the committee discussed several options, Cain said. Scenarios were offered showing the various effects on school finances if an override was approved for five years in the amounts of $500,000, $700,000 or $900,000, for example.
Cain told board members to still expect deficits, even if voters okay an override. It wouldn’t cover long-term financial needs for programs, he said, but just enable the district to maintain existing programs. He favored going for the $900,000 amount, as that would result in a temporary surplus he placed at $326,000 for the first year, before deficit spending would return “two years down the line.”
“We wouldn’t have to come back with such dramatic cuts right away,” he said, noting bus replacement might be the logical use for the temporary surplus.
A proposed maintenance needs list was developed and would be the issue for the other referendum question, the superintendent said. The list, though not meant to be complete, includes 11 major items of immediate concern, at a total estimated cost of $1,091,000 (based on 2009 construction).
They and their individual estimated costs are: replace portion of high school roof, $130,000; replace high school hot water system, $18,000; replacement of boilers and controls, $200,000; new tennis courts, $150,000; replacement of high school track, $175,000; replacement of high school visitor bleachers, $100,000; replacement of high school old gym bleachers, $70,000; high school plumbing upgrades, $100,000; high school old gym lighting and ceiling, $85,000; high school old gym air handling units, $45,000; and replace heating, ventilation, air conditioning (classroom, locker area), $18.000.
At least two items from another separate list of potential maintenance projects were considered: middle school roof replacement in the amount of $60,000, which may warrant a higher priority than was envisioned, Cain said, and the aforementioned school bus purchases, at $70,000 per bus.
Information about referendum financing options was given the board, assuming borrowing amounts of $1 million or $1,500,000 over five, eight or 10 years. Over five years, the former would impact a $150,000 home by $15 and over eight or 10 years by $1.50, while impacting a $200,000 home by $20 over five years and by $2 over eight or 10 years. The latter would impact a $150,000 home by $30 over five years and by $6 over eight or 10 years, while impacting a $200,000 home by $40 over five years and by $8 over eight or 10 years.
Board President Gerald Bristol suggested adding a $2 million borrowing amount to the possibilities, also determining its impact. A concern that the maintenance list doesn’t account for elementary school needs was raised, but Cain responded there was a feeling the future direction of those facilities should be solidified first, and agreed that feeling could be communicated along with the referendum.
The two referendum questions wouldn’t be dependent upon each other, he said, meaning voters could approve one and reject the other. A special school board meeting has been scheduled for next Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the high school library, at which the November referendum will be the topic.
Read more in the print version of the Herald Sept. 10.