FAQs: Budget and FinanceQ: Will short-term decisions in cost savings lead to larger costs in the future?A. 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. Failing to address all parts of the high school might save some costs in the short-term, but may result in higher regular maintenance costs and/or a more expensive project down the road. 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 delayed to reduce costs in the short term.
Q: Will the $9 million bond/swap cost affect the budget for the new project?
A: The swap settlement is being paid over a four-year period with reserve funds. The high school will be funded with a combination of remaining reserves, annual operating funds, gifts, donations and borrowing. The districtʼs conservative financial strategy is to limit borrowing as much as possible by using reserves and funding established within existing operating budgets.
Q: How will the project affect MY tax bill?
A: Use our tax estimator to learn how project costs might affect you.
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. 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. We are considering many project and funding options; preliminary estimates show that it is possible to fund any of the six concepts with a surcharge equivalent to a single digit tax increase (<10%) that would be added to your existing property tax bill for a period that would not exceed 30 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 more manageable to borrow over a longer term. Some districts use 30-year financing for a project like this; we will also evaluate the appropriateness and feasibility of shorter periods of time.
Q: If $2 million/year were directed from the districtʼs annual operating budget to help fund the high school, 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 if there is an educationally appropriate way to implement such a change and maintain an excellent educational program. The most suitable 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 other than the high school, redirecting capital reserve transfers to the high school could affect the districtʼs ability to maintain or renovate other facilities, such as elementary schools.
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: Upgrades to the high school through renovation and/or new construction will include many energy saving features, significantly improving temperature control and air quality. The current HVAC system will be replaced. Current inefficient room air conditioners will be removed and efficient building-wide air conditioning will be installed to accommodate todayʼs year-round building use. Using a process called “integrated design,” changes in heating, ventilation, insulation and other building features will be balanced to achieve the most energy savings for the least cost. 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 options are designed.
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: Based on size, facility condition and educational adequacy, the high school is currently the highest priority for improvement. Despite the complexity and duration of the high school project (approximately 2015-2018), it is likely we evaluate elementary projects during the same period. We will balance the use of Capital Reserve funds for the high school project with funding elementary school projects.