VB – Building the Very Best future for our Kids
1. What is the millage of the levy and how much is the levy for?
The millage for the levy is 7.0 and it is for a total project cost of $28,750,000.
2. What is the term and estimated interest rate of the bond levy?
The bond levy has a term of 30 years at an estimated 4.5% interest. The building life is 50-100 years.
3. What is included in the project cost for the levy?
The levy is for a two phased reconstruction and building project of the middle school and high school facilities. The renovation expenditures total $8,000,000, the new construction expenditures total $19,000,000, and the demolition expenditures total $1,750,000.
Classroom Addition - Phase One
Approximately 34 various sized educational spaces (classrooms): Each to have natural day-lighting, latest technology, voice enhancement system, cabinetry, smart boards or touch screen monitors, marker boards, bulletin boards, flexible seating, air conditioning, etc.
Central Atrium: Multi-use space, expand cafeteria seating, flexible educational areas, access to educational spaces, community uses, student gathering spaces, natural light.
High School & Middle School Offices: Secured entry from visitor parking, waiting area, workspaces, conference spaces, adjacent to cafeteria and atrium.
Gymnasium, Locker Rooms, Weight Room - Phase Two
New Varsity Gym: 14,000 sq. ft. allows for main basketball court and two full sized basketball practice courts, divider curtain to allow two physical education classes or practices simultaneously, additional practice baskets, two or more volleyball courts, seating for approximately 1,400 – 1,500.
Locker Rooms: Three or four locker rooms, handicapped accessible, coaches’ offices, training room, dual use for physical education and sports teams, and game clock display
Weight Room: Accommodate all existing equipment
Additional Project Features
New public restrooms, concessions, convert existing varsity gym to junior high gym (seating on one side), corridor connectors at music wing and kitchen (better student traffic flow), kitchen improvements and small addition, air conditioning throughout, replace plumbing and electrical systems, new bus garage (off-site), HVAC and roof repairs at the old wing of the elementary building, increased parking and improved circulation for traffic flow, wireless technology throughout, and storage and maintenance area(s).
4. What are some of the features of the proposed project?
Some of the features of the proposed project include:
· Building approximately 34 classroom spaces for the high school and middle school. Some of the classrooms in the current high school area may be converted to other uses.
· Additional parking to improve traffic flow
· An atrium area to allow for natural lighting and flexible classroom and student use.
· Remodeling of the 1970’s addition including the cafeteria, gymnasium and classrooms.
· To the extent possible, adding natural lighting to the current inside-hallway classrooms.
· Conversion of the current gymnasium to a middle school gym. This is necessitated by the need to replace the current bleachers which are original to that gym but are becoming unsafe. To do so we are mandated by law to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and this requires 4-foot aisles with rails. This will cause a decrease in seating by approximately 25%.
· A hallway is to be created through the north side of the gym (press-box side) to allow student traffic from the academic area to the fine arts wing in a more efficient manner.
· A new varsity gym will be built with appropriate seating capacity for varsity sports as well as school-related activities.
· A new weight-room is planned to be attached to the school building so that it can be used as part of the physical education program as well as by the athletic department.
· A new chiller for the Elementary building.
· A new roof for the older section of the Elementary building.
5. Why do we need to do the project now?
In recent years and in the future if the levy does not pass, the district’s expenditures for maintenance and repair of the middle school and high school have been increasing, specifically the maintenance budget for 2014 fiscal year was 180% of the budgeted amount ($155,000 was budgeted and $280,101 was spent) largely due to issues in the middle school and high school buildings.
In order to address these aging buildings, the Van Buren Board of Education determined that the 1918 portion of our buildings, the 1950’s gym, and the part of the building connecting them should be razed. This decision was made based on the current conditions of the buildings, including :
· Aging sewer system where the old cast iron pipes are collapsing because of all of the years of sulfur water passing through them prior to obtaining city water/sewer
· HVAC is difficult to merge with the newer parts of the buildings causing uneven or ineffective heating and cooling
· Roofs are leaking
· There is asbestos in the old gym that we would like to remediate
· Mortar is crumbling and chimneys are collapsing
· The needs of today’s students and curriculum require a different type of classroom environment than what was needed in 1918, or even in the 1970s. Spaces need to be flexible, allowing for both individual and group work under the supervision of staff. We are learning the benefits of natural lighting and desire to incorporate natural lighting as much as possible into our learning environments.
If you would like to view some pictures of these buildings, checkout our website www.yes4vbs.org or our Facebook page (Yes4VBS). If you would like to tour the school, please contact Tim Myers, Superintendent, at 419-299-3578 x 101 or attend one of the regularly scheduled Board of Education meetings.
6. What is the estimated annual cost to the taxpayer for the levy?
Using current data, passage of the levy would equate to a tax increase of:
o $245.00 annually per $100,000 of valuation
o $367.50 annually per $150,000 of valuation
o $490.00 annually per $200,000 of valuation
7. What other alternatives to address the state of the middle school and high school buildings were considered?
The Van Buren Board of Education considered various alternatives to address the middle school and high school buildings as there is not a ‘no cost’ option. The Board considered renovating all buildings. The cost of renovation only, keeping all current buildings, is estimated at $19,586,922. This alternative was not considered an approach to pursue because the small classroom sizes would not be increased, limitations on technology updates, and a shorter life expectancy of the renovated older sections of the building would require additional funding in the future. In addition, a shorter life expectancy at two-thirds (2/3) the cost of the current proposed project did not seem fiscally responsible.
We also considered building a new building on a new site for the sixth through twelfth graders. This would cost an estimated $44,000,000. Due to various factors, including cost of the project, loss of synergies from having all students on one campus (e.g. administrative resources, maintenance service resources) and determining location for the building, this alternative was not pursued. Another alternative considered was to make repairs and replacements as they arise over multiple years with each repair/replacement costing millions of dollars. Such an approach would still require a separate bond levy to fund each significant repair/replacement, which would result in multiple bond levies over a period of time, rather than one bond levy for one integrated project plan like we have selected to pursue. Further, some of these repairs and replacements may require the use of temporary classrooms potentially for extended periods of time which the Board has strong desires to avoid in order to provide the best learning experience for the students. Construction costs are also expected to escalate by 2.5% per year, thus the expected costs of these repairs and replacements will increase over time. Bond financing costs are also expected to increase by approximately 0.25% by January of 2015, with additional increases expected over the next several years. Accordingly, this approach was not considered a viable alternative for these reasons.
8. What are some of the details about the proposed project?
The existing middle school and high school buildings are 156,175 sq. ft. The project would have 43,787 sq. ft. demolished and have new construction of 87,424 sq. ft. Upon completion, the total square footage for the middle and high school buildings would be 199,812. To see a map of the proposed demolition, click here.
The project includes refurbishing areas and the construction of additional areas including corridor connectors at music wings and cafeteria, cafeteria, kitchen, HVAC systems throughout, plumbing and electrical throughout, new bus garage (off-site), HVAC and roof repairs at the elementary building, and increased parking.
9. Will the project improve the traffic flow before and after school?
The safety and security of the students is an utmost priority for the Board of Education. The Board of Education is reviewing and considering various alternatives for increased parking spaces and improved traffic flow, including before school and after school. This includes routes for the buses and separate routes for the elementary and middle school/high school. If the levy passes in November, during November and December 2014 community meetings will be held and input will be sought on this and other specifics regarding the project.
10. Are the project plans final?
No, the project plans are not final. Today there are conceptual drawings, however, more detailed plans occur after the passage of the levy.
11. How was the project plan developed?
School building projects begin by determining primary needs. In our case, two architectural firms and the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission (OSFC) performed studies of our existing facilities to determine the needs of our structural, system, and buildings. A general budget based on student population, expected growth, and building needs is then established. This is the figure that is used to determine the funding needed for a bond levy. More detailed plans occur after the passage of the bond levy. The cost of detailed plans prior to the approval of the bond levy is not a good use of any district’s funds. Without the levy funds to pay for the planning, the cost of the architectural plans would have to come out of the general operating funds putting a strain on the budget of the district.
12. When will the staff, teachers, parents and community be involved in the decision making process for the final plans for the project?
Once a bond levy is passed it is approximately a year before any building begins. It is in the time immediately following the passage of the levy that teachers, parents, administration, the Board and the community would have an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas concerning what details should go into the building. If the levy would pass in November, these meetings would be held in November and December 2014.
13. What is the proposed timeline for the project?
November 4, 2014: Successful passage of Bond Issue
Site Investigations: Enhanced Survey Soils, Utilities, Traffic (Nov-Dec 2014)
Staff and Community Interviews (Nov-Dec 2014)
Schematic Design (November 2014- January 2015)
Design Development (February – May 2015)
Construction Documents (June – August 2015)
Fall 2015: start new 6-12(Move-in December 2016)
Winter 2017: start demolition
Summer 2017: start gym addition
Winter 2018: gym completed
Final Site Work (Spring 2018)
*Timeline may be extended as needed to fully develop plans
14. How was the location decision for the middle school/high school buildings made?
Where to build the new middle school and high school space has been debated for years in our district. Several years ago, the Board considered looking for property away from the current site. The Board at that time made a decision that keeping everything on the current campus was the best option. We believe that it creates a better more cooperative environment for grades K through 12 than having buildings separated by a greater distance. A strategic plan that was conducted in 2009 also concluded that keeping everything on the current site was the best, preferred option. As for where the new addition would go on the current site, it is influenced by the space restrictions of our current property. While there are additional properties that the district would like to acquire to enhance our property, we can only begin outlining the project based on our current ownership.
15. How does Van Buren’s millage compare to other districts?
Currently, Van Buren School District has the lowest operating tax burden and the lowest combined operating and capital tax burden. With the passage of this levy, only three (3) of the ten (10) local school districts (Van Buren, North Baltimore, Vanlue, Liberty Benton, Cory Rawson, Findlay, McComb, Arcadia, Arlington and Riverdale) would have a lower tax burden. Of these three (3) schools, two (2) have in the past or are currently considering bond projects for the future. Regarding our existing bond issue which was approved by the voters in 2000 for a 25 year term, we were able to issue 20 year bonds due to favorable rates at issuance. This bond started in 2000 for 20 years at 4.3 mils and a 2010 resale of the bonds resulted in a reduced interest rate. This reduced interest rate resulted in a reduction of the mils in 2014 to 2.75 and the bonds are expected to remain less than 4 mils until retired in 2020.
16. Why is the state not helping pay for the building like in other districts?
The state determines what school districts it will help based on a formula that takes into account the total valuation of the property in the district and the number of students in the district. According to the most recent list, the Van Buren District is ranked 560 out of 612 districts. In the state’s formula, districts with a lower number get more monies and first opportunity for the funds. Higher numbered districts receive little or no monies and have to wait their turn. As an example when North Baltimore did their project they were ranked around 155 on the list and the state provided 60% of the funding for their project. Findlay was ranked around 352 on the list and the state provided approximately 30% of the funding for their project. The last discussion that was held with the state was in 2012. At that time they would only provide 5% of the funding for our project. The state requires more stringent guidelines and restrictions on the use of their money so accepting their 5% would incur additional project cost that far exceed their 5% contribution.
17. What is the status of additional property acquisitions the Board of Education is considering for the project?
Of the original six (6) properties considered for acquisition by the Board of Education, we have completed the acquisition of four (4) properties and continue to have discussions for the other two (2) properties. We have no intent to pursue acquisition of any homes by eminent domain.
18. What is the current enrollment for grades 6-12 and what is the enrollment the project is projected to hold for 6-12 grades?
Current enrollment for 6-12 is 569 students. The proposed project is projected to hold up to 800 students and this total takes into account the current student population across all grades and the expected growth across all grades.
19. Why pursue a property tax instead of a school district income tax on wages earned by residents?
A school district income tax is based on wages and the resulting collection is based on the wages earned by residents of the school district. People who work in the community but are not residents do not pay the income tax. The businesses located in the district do not pay the income tax because it is based on wages, rather than income. Due to the composition of our district, if an income tax on wages was pursued, a large portion of the tax burden will be shifted from commercial property owners to residential property owners.
An illustrative example:
If we passed an income tax to collect $10 million of the wages earned, and for example let’s assume our district is comprised of 45% commercial property owners and 55% residential property owners. The $10 million would all be paid be the residents (none would be collected from the commercial property owners). Assuming the same composition of property owners, for a property tax the residential property owners would pay $5.5 million and the commercial property owners would pay $4.5 million. Since we have a number of commercial property owners, it is more advantageous to our taxpayers in the district to more evenly share the cost of the levy.
20. What is our current maintenance repair cost per year? Will there be a reduction with the new facility?
Our current budget for building and grounds upkeep, maintenance, and repairs is approximately $350,000. As of August 31, 2014, we have expended over $168,000 (almost 50% of the budget) and the school year just started. This budgeted amount is more than double what was budgeted last year (fiscal year 2014) and will need to continue to be increased in future years if nothing is done to alleviate the need for such costly repairs.
With constant repairs being required by our HVAC system and other plumbing issues, if we no longer have these expenses as a result of the proposed major repairs and upgrades to these systems, we would reduce our annual maintenance repair costs. Newer buildings and upgrades would also reduce our need for other building repairs including electrical and lighting repairs.
21. Why do we need a new gym?
One major factor in the need for a new gymnasium involves the bleachers in the current high school gym. The bleachers in this gym are the original bleachers installed in 1972. These bleachers are breaking down and are need in various safety improvements. After 42 years of use, these bleachers need to be replaced. Parts for repairs are becoming hard to find, if available at all. A simple solution would be to replace the current bleachers with new ones. The problem with this scenario is that once we attempt to make this repair we would lose 25% of the seating in the gym because we must then meet all current codes and ADA requirements. This includes designated wheel chair spots and designated 4 foot wide aisles. There are times when we have over flow and cannot accommodate everyone with the current bleacher set up. Losing 25% of the seating would further worsen this situation. Part of the plan in the 2000 construction project was to add more bleachers to this gym. Structurally, it could not be done, leading to the situation that we are dealing with today.
With the addition of a new gym, the current high school gym would become the designated middle school gym. The bleachers could be replaced and the loss of seating would still accommodate everyone for events at that level. Another advantage of this plan is that this gym could also become the gym that would be available for public use, replacing the 1952 gym that was removed from public use when the weight room had to be moved into this space several years ago. Additionally, the old locker rooms that the middle school students currently use are located under the old 1952 gym. These 62 year old locker rooms are old, dark, musty, and deteriorating.
22. How did the Board select the architect and engineering firms?
Architectural and Engineering firms have been involved in this project since 2009. In late 2009 the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission (OSFC) was brought to campus to do a detailed analysis of the districts buildings and facilities. Architects and Engineers from OSFC evaluated our facilities and presented a report to the Board of Education.
Upon review of the OSFC report, the Board desired another building study for comparison purposes. Fourteen Architectural firms presented proposals. Six were selected for interview and the Board chose RCM Architects in Findlay for this purpose. RCM finished their study in late 2010.
Last year, the Board made the decision to move forward with this project and a request for proposals was sent out to the school design community in Ohio. Twenty-six (26) firms responded to with Requests for Proposals (RFPs). The Board’s Facilities Committee and the Superintendent reviewed the RFPs and made reference calls which allowed us to recommend six (6) firms for the Board to interview. These interviews took place in November of 2013. Following the interviews the list was narrowed to three (3). Site visits were made to projects that these firms had completed and second interviews were conducted. At the end of that process, Garmann-Miller Architects-Engineers out of Minster, Ohio was selected for this project.
Garmann-Miller Architects-Engineers have been involved in several local projects. They completed projects in both the Kansas-Lakota School District and the Findlay City School District. They have also been selected by the Liberty Benton School District for early planning for their proposed new building project.
23. How are tax collections in the district changing?
Agricultural collections are increasing and residential and commercial collections are decreasing. This decrease outweighs any benefit from the increase in the current agricultural use value (CAUV) and overall results in less than a 1% increase in collections.
24. What if the bond levy is not approved by the voters?
If the bond levy is not approved by the voters, then the Board will review the budget and prepare, as best as possible, for contingency plans in the event that a major repair or replacement is needed. The current budget does not have excess funds for any such event and if such an event occurs, then the Board will seek approval from the community for a smaller bond levy to address that repair/replacement and subsequent similar bond levy requests are possible in subsequent years. Meanwhile, the students will potentially be in temporary classrooms for extended periods of time. Furthermore, even if there is no such event, the technological resources available to the students will be limited, the parking spaces will remain limited and the traffic flow inhibited, the mechanical and utility systems (including HVAC, plumbing and electrical) will continue to operate inefficiently and at a higher costs, in addition to numerous other issues and concerns with the campus while working to ensure we have the best learning environment for our students.