• I. Budget and Finances

    Q: Will short-term decisions in cost savings lead to larger costs in the future?
    A. Some short-term cost savings may result in higher regular maintenance costs or a more expensive project down the road. The district is committed to using tax dollars efficiently to provide an appropriate program for our students. We consider both short and long-term impact of all projects.

    In addition, because construction costs continue to rise annually even in the current financial climate, a project may cost more overall if some parts of the project are reduced or eliminated to reduce costs in the short term.

    Q: Will the $9 million bond/swap cost affect the budget for the new project?
    A: The funding for the swap settlement is being handled with reserve funds. All projects, including the high school and future renovations to other district buildings, will be funded with a combination of remaining reserves, annual operating funds, and borrowing. The districtʼs conservative financial strategy is to limit borrowing by using reserves and operating budgets as much as possible.

    Q: How will the project affect MY tax bill?
    A: It is too early to provide the exact numbers because the tax impact will wholly depend on which particular option/concept is chosen for the high school project. At this point, we have calculated preliminary cost ranges for the concepts. Once a final project is selected, district financial personnel will review total cost to determine the most efficient way to fund the project through a number of sources, including the capital reserve fund and additional financing. The impact on your tax bill will depend on voter approval of a referendum to finance a specific amount for selected project.

    Q: When you get to the point where budget plans have come together for each option, can you please show the cost or a way to calculate a cost per household? And for how long?
    A: Yes. We will be able to show the cost for a household based on various financing options.

    Q: If new sites are valued at $2-$4 million, how did the value of Westerly Parkway factor in to the budget?
    A: The $2 -$4 million costs indicated are estimates for land acquisition for certain properties based on currently available information. The $6 million figure being used for the value of the current Westerly Parkway site is based on the most recent appraisal of that site (2007).

    Q: When people of limited income worry about how to pay the tax increase, how do you answer them?
    A: There is no easy answer to this question. We are considering many project and funding options and seeking input from across the community in order to select a project that the community can support. Most of our funding comes from taxpayers in the district, so we know the high school project will have an impact and may present a challenge for some district homeowners. The School Board is committed to selecting a project that respects taxpayersʼ current significant commitment to the district, gives taxpayers an excellent value for their investment and will have a positive effect on our students and community for many years.

    Q: What are the five (5) and ten (10) year annual estimated operating costs for each of the options? (Please include the costs of administration and staff.)
    A: These costs are currently being explored and will be shared once complete.

    Q: Do cost estimates include the cost of demolition?
    A: Yes, demolition costs are included in the cost estimates for concepts that will require demolition.
     
    Q: Why arenʼt we looking at 15-year financing as some schools do?
    A: We are evaluating all financing options. Typically districts, like homeowners, consider the estimated lifetime of the project and select financing that balances expense and years of benefit. Shorter term projects are usually funded from reserves and operating budgets. For a project of this size, which the community will use for many years, it is often most affordable to borrow over a longer term. Most districts use 30 year financing for a project like this; we will also evaluate the appropriateness and feasibility of 20 and 25 year options.
     
    Q: If $2 million/year were lost out of the districtʼs annual operating budget, what services will be lost?
    A: Reducing the annual operating budget by $2 million/year to help fund the high school project would require significant restructuring of our current program and finances. It is too early to determine the best way to implement such a change and maintain an excellent educational program. The most appropriate funding mix, including using some portion of the annual operating budget, will depend on the final project selected. Since the district already uses part of the annual
    operating budget for capital projects, reducing the operating budget may affect the districtʼs ability to begin working on other capital projects.
     
    Q: What is the expected savings in energy costs from the current facilities to the new facilities? Where will that money go? Will it be put towards the new debt?
    A: Upgrading our high school facility through renovation and/or new construction will include adding many energy saving features, significantly improving air quality, and replacing the current HVAC system with much more energy efficient systems. Current inefficient room air conditioners will be removed and efficient building-wide
    air conditioning installed to accommodate todayʼs year-round building use. However, because the current buildings do not meet the current requirements for fresh air exchanges and are only partially air conditioned, we do not anticipate net energy savings. We will continue to research the costs as we more specifically develop the options.
     
    Q: Which building plan will cost the least to operate?
    A: This information will be developed as part of the final phases of the evaluation process. More detailed building design information is needed to accurately estimate these costs.
     
    Q: Will the renovation of the elementary schools be completed before the high school, and how will taking money from Capital Reserve fund help or hinder that?
    A: The high school is currently the highest priority for improvement as determined in the master plan that prioritized district capital projects. However, because of the size and duration of the high school project (approximately 2015-2018), it is likely we will do some elementary projects during the same period. We are looking for a balance in using Capital Reserve funds to help support the high school project along with funding elementary school projects. We will continue to evaluate all financial options for accomplishing the needed projects and will share cost information once complete.
     
Last Modified on May 15, 2013