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Let's talk facilities
At Seaman Schools, we take great pride in our facilities. Over the decades, facilities have opened, closed, and been re-purposed. This is an ongoing activity as our needs and priorities change. Facility improvements are primarily paid out of two funding sources: bond funds and capital outlay funds, supplementing here and there with donations, athletic, and activity dollars. All of these funding sources are critical in keeping our facilities first rate. Let’s take a closer look at the most recent facility improvement plan for the district, which is nearing completion.
In April 2013, our patrons approved a bond issue in the amount of $57.5 million to build the new Seaman Middle School and make improvements to all other buildings. These funds also provided the means to convert the old Seaman Middle School to Northern Hills Elementary School. Bond funds are simply a loan to the district which is repaid over several years. State law requires bond money to only be used for facility improvements. To pay back the loan, school district patrons who own property are assessed a mill levy tax for the bond and interest loan payments.
Recently, the board of education approved the final project from the 2013 bond election. This project will replace the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) at Logan Elementary in two phases beginning in May 2017 and finishing in July 2018. With the completion of that HVAC project, the remaining bond money will have been utilized. In addition to bond funds, the board also utilizes the capital outlay fund to improve facilities.
CAPITAL OUTLAY FUNDS
Capital outlay money may be used primarily for facility improvements. For several years, the board of education has worked from a capital outlay priority list. This list is reported to the board of education in March as the Capital Outlay Revenue and Expense 5-Year Report (CORE-5 report). Several folks contribute to the generation of this report.
To create the CORE-5 report, the district utilizes the expertise of HTK Architects, our Director of Facilities and Grounds, along with various school and district administrators to review facility needs throughout USD 345. These folks gather feedback from our staff and patrons to ensure we are getting information from a variety of district stakeholders. The facility needs are then prioritized in February and presented to the board of education for a “first reading” in March. The March BOE meeting provides the board the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the identified priorities from the CORE-5 report. From this discussion, suggestions for edits are considered and the list may be altered to reflect suggested changes. In April, the CORE-5 report is on the BOE agenda for final approval. Following BOE approval, the process starts over again with information gathering and priority identification.
Quality facilities are an essential component for great teaching and learning. Research is clear that facilities do matter, not only in enhancing programming for our kids, but also in enhancing pride in our entire school system. Thank you patrons of USD 345 for allowing us to have quality facilities that help us provide a quality education.