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Ellsworth-Kanopolis-Geneseo School District seeks bond issue

POSTED: September 3, 2014 7:00 a.m.

$4,597,537 bond issue to be on Nov. 4 ballot

BY Mark mccoy
Ellsworth County I-R

The Ellsworth-Kanopolis-Geneseo school board decided to move towards a $4,597,537 bond issue for the upcoming Nov. 4 general election Monday during a special meeting, cutting $2,196,750 from its list of needed capital improvements.
According to superintendent Eric Reid’s calculations, the estimated mill levy would be 5.976776. On a $100,000 home, Reid estimated the tax burden would be an additional $5.75 a month.
Gordon Kimble, of HTK Architects of Topeka, attended the meeting to answer questions about the projects, particularly the security entrance to Ellsworth Jr/Sr High school.
At the Aug. 11 meeting of the board, president Darin Holecek asked for an alternate security entrance plan, which would enable  administration personnel to see persons approaching the school.
The new proposal chopped $338,000 from the proposed entrance project, turning the existing teachers’ workroom into the secretary’s station and the main entry point of the building. The office area of the school would be remodeled to facilitate a new teachers’ workroom.
The board decided upon remodeling the technical arts building at a cost of $980,000; remodeling the kitchen at $410,00; remodeling the science rooms at $740,000; adding four classrooms on the Silverwood wing at $1,200,000; replacing the boiler unit and pumps at a cost of $250,00; replacing the tennis courts at $500,00; replacing the chilling units at $160,000 and the security entrance at $312,000.
Reid said that assistance from bond attorneys and the bond assistance company would split one percent of the total, at $45,520.
Reid told the board that the bond question could be worded so that if the projects on the bond issue would come in under budget, any excess money could be applied to the KMS HVAC project loan the board used for the improvements this summer.
If bond money is used to pay off the loan, the state is required to pay 25 percent of the note for capital outlay assistance.
Kimble told the board that he thought the figures for the bond were conservative.
“We can always be optimistic,” said board member Davis Hand. Hand also told the board that a patron had asked him if the district had a comprehensive capital outlay plan.
“I told him about our five-year plan,” Hand said. “I think we need to make sure the public knows the plan and it should be attached to any information regarding the bond.”
The board discussed various methods of educating patrons about the bond, including social internet sites, advertising in the I-R and mailing flyers.
“One of the main comments I heard from patrons during the tours this summer was that the board, you guys, have to lead on this issue,” Reid said.
Hand suggested that the board write a letter to the I-R and have each board member sign the document. He noted that historically, older people are more likely to vote and that demographic might not have access to internet sites.
The tennis courts were another topic of discussion, as no one knows if the ground at the proposed placement, east of Shanelec Field, is suitable for the structure. The ground conditions at the existing tennis courts is also unknown, if the board decided to rebuild the courts there.   
Kimble told the board that proper soil testing would be done wherever the courts were built.
Reid told the board that the remaining items on its capital improvement list could be worked into the five-year plan.
“Are you all comfortable with the items on here?” Reid asked the board at the end of the meeting.
After the end of a long silence, Holecek re-phrased the question.
“Are you uncomfortable with any of these items?” he asked. After another moment of silence, Reid told the board that he would contact the bond attorneys and have a bond issue question ready for approval at the next meeting of the board.
The next meeting of the USD 327 school board will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 8, at the district office in Ellsworth.

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