CCR-1 To Seek “No Tax Increase” $8 Million Dollar Bond Issue

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CCR-1 To Seek “No Tax Increase” $8 Million Dollar Bond Issue

By Mike Scott

Clark County voters will be asked to approve borrowing $8 million dollars for a list of facility improvements on the April 4 ballot. The bond issue, called Proposition Education, will not increase the Clark County R-1 School District tax levy.

Over the past several months, the district has held a series of meetings to get public input into the needs of the district. A final public input meeting was held on Wednesday, January 18, and turnout was so large that the meeting had to be moved from the Central Office into the library at the Middle School.

“Thank you all for attending,” Superintendent Dr. Ritchie Kracht said. “These decisions will affect the district for the next 30-50 years.”

Topping the list of projects would be the construction of a new Early Childhood/Success Center building, which would house early childhood (ages 3-5) students, as well as special education students.

Currently the district averages about 90 kids in early childhood classes, and expects that number to rise in the coming years. Roughly 150 students have special needs, and around 20 would attend classes in the new building.
The new building, dubbed the Early Childhood/Success Center building, could be built either behind Black Hawk or behind the middle school.

“This building will put them in a better environment to improve and be successful,” said Kracht.
Estimated costs for the building range between $3.4 and $3.6 million dollars.

Parents at Wednesday’s meeting questioned whether isolating the special needs students met their needs to interact with their peers.

“I don’t want anyone to think we’re just sticking them out there and forgetting about them,” said Dr. Susan Rossmiller, Running Fox principal. “For some activities, they will be integrated and interact with other students. It all depends on the needs of each student.”

Kracht explained that two projects on the list will be done this summer regardless of whether the bond issue passes.
The first will be to add approximately 50 concrete footings along the west wall of the high school, to stabilize settling which has caused large cracks to appear. The approximate cost of repairs is between $80,000-$100,000 dollars.
The next project will be the replacement of the HVAC cooling tower at the Middle School. which has surpassed its life expectancy.

One item that will directly impact the way students learn will be one-to-one technology, a program where every student would have a computer

At a start up cost of $135,000, which would only provide Chromebooks for students in grades 7-12. It’s an expensive venture, but will be partially offset by the purchasing fewer textbooks.

Several security improvements are planned, included security entrances at all buildings, a card-activated entry system, along with programmable locks, an emergency notification system, and several new doors at both elementary buildings.

The Middle School and High School are in need of updates to the telephone and intercom systems.
Fencing around the playgrounds at Running Fox and Black Hawk would secure the playgrounds, keeping unauthorized people out and students in.

Potential projects include three paving e the parking lots at the Middle School, Running Fox, and near the Ag Building and Fitness Building.

Student restrooms at Running Fox and Black Hawk could see major renovations.

At the Middle School, the lights in the commons would be replaced with energy-efficient LED lights.

Three athletic-related projects are proposed.

The first would be to replace visitors’ bleachers at the Activity Field.

Improving the lighting on the baseball field would complete the upgrades at the ball complete. The cost may be shared between the City of Kahoka, the ball association, the school district and private sources.

Installing an all-weather track would cost around $425,000, and would be expected to last around 10 years.
Another option would be to improve the entire Activity Field complex, with a new track, an artificial turf field, new jumping runways and pits, and new visitor’s bleachers at a cost of $1.5 million dollars.

On Monday night, January 23, the board met in special session to approve submitting the issue to the voters.

“It’s not an easy decision,” said board vice-president Bill Schutte. I was not comfortable with it until today when I could review more numbers.”
Schutte wanted to make sure the current levy will generate enough revenue to repay the bond, even if assessed valuation falls.

“We’re going all in, and we’ll ride this decision for the next 10 years,” said board member Craig Hunziker.

“We’re all scared of the unknown,” said board president Brad Sprague.

MORE INFORMATION FROM LAST WEEK’S PAPER

CCR-1 Board Discusses Potential Project List

By Mike Scott

The Clark County R-1 school district wants to borrow around $8 million dollars on a list of nearly 20 potential projects developed by school leaders and members of the public during several meetings held over the past several months. They are proposing a “no-tax increase” bond issue, which, if approved by the board, will appear on the April ballot.
A “no tax increase” bond issue will not increase the school’s tax levy for property owners. Rather, it lets the district borrow additional funds, which would be repaid by current tax levies.

Topping the list of projects would be the construction of a new Early Childhood/Success Center building, which would house early childhood (ages 3-5) students, as well as special education students.

“Right now, we average about 90 kids in early childhood classes,” said Superintendent Dr. Ritchie Kracht. “We expect that number to rise in the coming years.”

A new building, dubbed the Early Childhood/Success Center building, is proposed to be built behind Black Hawk Elementary. It would house the Early Childhood (EC) program, as well as Special Education program students, which would be housed in the opposite end of the building.

“We have about 15-20 special education students that need full time services,” Kracht said.

Other students will move in and out of the building as their individual needs require.

“I want to make it clear that not every student in a special ed program will be out in that building,” said Black Hawk principal Julie Brotherton.

Currently, the district has 150 special ed students in grades K-12, and around expects to serve 30-45 Early Childhood Special Ed students.

“Members of the public don’t realize how many special ed students we have,” said board member Kari Bevans.
“This building will put them in a better environment to improve and be successful,” said Kracht.

Estimated costs for the building range between $3.4 and $3.6 million dollars. Depending on the final site location, a parking and driving lane to serve the facility would add up to $450,000 more.

Two projects on the list will be done this summer regardless of whether the bond issue passes.

The first will be to add approximately 50 concrete footings along the west wall of the high school, to stop the settling which has caused large cracks to appear. The approximate cost of repairs is between $80,000-$100,000 dollars.
The next project will be the replacement of the cooling tower at the Middle School. The cooling tower is part of the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system in the building, and has surpassed its life expectancy.

Several safety and security updates are being considered. New building entrances at the High School, Middle School, Running Fox and Black Hawk will require all visitors to enter directly into the office.  The cost for these safety entrances is projected to total $160,000.

A card-activated entry system, along with programmable locks, will help secure the buildings during and after school hours. The cost ranges from $70,000-$100,000 dollars. Replacing exterior doors at Running Fox and Black Hawk will cost around $100,000.
The district is considering an emergency notification system for each building that would be similar to a “panic button”, which would call law enforcement automatically. Depending on whether these were installed in every classroom or just offices, the cost ranges from $10,000-$70,000 dollars.

The Middle School and High School are in need of updates to the telephone and intercom systems. Currently, teachers needing to call a parent do not have access to a confidential setting without using the principal’s or other office space. A new bell system would also replace the systems that frequently malfunction. These improvements would cost around $50,000.

Fencing around the playgrounds at Running Fox and Black Hawk would secure the playgrounds, keeping unauthorized people out and students in.  The cost estimate is $25,000.

The list of potential projects includes three paving projects. The total cost to pave the parking lots at the Middle School, Running Fox, and near the Ag Building and Fitness Building is estimated at $852,500.

Student restrooms at Running Fox and Black Hawk could see big improvements at a cost of $170,000.
The district would like to replace the old-style lighting in the Middle School commons with energy-efficient LED lights costing $15,000.

“They will pay for themselves over time,” Kracht said.

Three athletic-related projects are proposed.

The first would be to replace visitors’ bleachers at the Activity Field. The cost estimate is between $50,000 and $75,000.
“From an administration standpoint it makes things much easier when we can separate fans,” Kracht said.
Improving the lighting on the baseball field would complete the upgrades at the ball complete. The cost
would range between $60,000 and $90,000, and may be shared between the City of Kahoka, the ball association, the school district and private sources.

The list also include a long-awaited all-weather track.

“We offer athletic programs that we don’t really have a facility for,” said Bevans.

Installing an all-weather track would cost around $425,000, and would be expected to last around 10 years. Another option would be to improve the entire Activity Field complex, with a new track, an artificial turf field, new jumping runways and pits, and new visitor’s bleachers at a cost of $1.5 million.

“It sounds like a lot,” said Middle School principal and Activity Director Jason Church. “We’re not a wealthy district, but there are several very nice facilities in northeast Missouri within an hour or two of Kahoka, where their students enjoy better facilities, and they’re not wealthy districts, either.”

It was noted that the track and field would not just be for football. Band members could practice in the morning without getting muddy. Baseball and softball players could practice when the ball field is muddy. Community members could walk the track for exercise.

In addition, Monroe City, which recently upgraded its field, has seen increases in business sales as they host track meets and other events at the field.

The final item on the list will impact the way students learn at Clark County.

With one-to-one technology, every student would have a computer, allowing them access to technology in school and at-home, and put everyone on a level playing field.

Students can work individually or together as needed, share information online, and interact directly with their teachers. The technology allows for more innovative teaching strategies, and provides access to a growing amount of digital material.

“We’re falling behind other districts in this area,” Kracht said.

Knox County instituted one-to-one about three years ago with excellent results.

At a startup cost of $135,000, which would only provide computers for grades 7-12, its an expensive venture. Yearly maintenance is not included in that figure, nor is the cost make K-6 one-to-one.

One benefit, however, would be the reduced dependence on costly textbooks, which could cover the additional costs.
“We know there is a lot on this list, and that some people might like some things, and not others. Our hope is that people will find something on here that they can support,” Kracht said.

“The security improvements alone have me sold on it,” said board member Kevin Ross.
Board member Craig Hunziker noted that many of the items are long-term commitments which will hold future costs.
“I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do any of these things. But we will have costs down the road. We’ll need to replace the track. We’ll have to buy computers. If we build the Early Childhood building near Black Hawk, we’re committing to building a new elementary there if we ever decide to do that.”

If approved, many of these projects could be completed within the next year. The Early Childhood/Success Center would be planned to open in the fall of 2018, and entry improvements at Black Hawk would have to wait until that was complete.

In a press release on Friday, January 13, Kracht said, “The next facilities meeting is Wednesday, January 18, at 6:00 p.m. in Central Office. This will be the last meeting before the board meets on Monday, January 23, to vote to put projects on the April ballot. I will have all estimated costs of projects discussed and drawings for the Early Childhood/Success Center, safety entrances, etc…. This group will make a recommendation to the school board on items to place on the ballot.”

In other business, the board:
-Approved an overnight trip to the FCCLA Leadership Conference.
-Approved several policy updates, including one related to a new law defining 3rd Degree assaults. The board develop an agreement with local law enforcement regarding what incidents will be reported to police.
-Average daily attendance for December was 943.75.
-High School principal Jason Harper reported seven seniors opted for early graduation.
-Repairs to the kitchen drain at Black Hawk were completed over the holiday break.
-The next regular board meeting will be Monday, February 13, at 6pm.