The District has many urgent facility needs, including some that must be addressed immediately. These include basic needs in areas such as plumbing, heating and ventilation, and electrical issues. In addition, it is essential that the District continues to upgrade safety and security, and the efficient operation of buildings. In order to continue to compete as the District of Choice, we need adequate high-quality learning spaces that support personalized learning, and proper programing that will continue to attract students.
The following items are included in the referendum solution:
Building a new pre-kindergarten through second grade elementary school at the Prairie View site.
At Prairie View, drop off/pick up improvements in order to improve traffic flow and student and parent safety, and to help alleviate congestion.
At the Middle School, a new energy management system will be installed to improve operating efficiency. In addition, lighting efficiency improvements, bathroom remodeling, and new lockers.
At the High School, improvements will include relocating the main office to enhance security; adding four new classrooms; establishing a robotics and technology education addition; creating a new band rehearsal room and new fitness room, enlarging some current classrooms; renovating the technology education area, choir room, lecture hall, locker rooms, and main bathrooms; and purchasing and installing a new energy management system.
At Leona Doubek, minor renovations for district administration and alternative education. Potentially demolishing a portion of the building if no other viable uses are found for the space.
At Chester Byrnes, potentially demolishing building if no other buyer or better use becomes available.
Second grade is most often defined as a primary grade. Currently, second graders are grouped with our intermediate students (third through fifth grade). By creating a primary school to serve pre-kindergarten through second grade, teachers are able to better address the developmental needs and implement creative ways to group students with similar needs.
In addition, second graders will have access to developmentally appropriate facilities including: bathrooms, sinks, computer lab, and playground equipment. The current facilities and equipment at Prairie View have been designed for students who are older.
Furthermore, Prairie View can return to its intended layout as an intermediate school serving third, fourth and fifth grades. This will allow space to further support personalized learning, exploratory projects, science labs, etc.
Finally, the current set up at Prairie View has resulted in second grade classrooms being split up throughout the building. By adding second grade to the new elementary school, second grade classrooms can be grouped together which fosters collaboration between teachers and students.
The budget for the buildings and grounds is not sufficient to deal with all of the issues that the District is currently facing. The District has reduced its utility use, and some of the resulting savings have been used to pay for additional projects that have further reduced energy use, prepared for cost-avoidance, or improved buildings. The bottom line is that the District’s building and grounds staff can do minor repairs, upgrades, or improvements, but multiple large scale renovations as planned in the proposed referendum can only be completed with a large bond issue amortized over 20 years through a referendum.
Since the referendum has passed, we can take advantage of new systems and further lower our utility use while improving the educational environment.
For example, if we retrofit to LED lighting in all buildings, we can improve the light output per fixture, reduce electricity used during peak loads (which WE Energies charges us for), and add in light harvesting capabilities, which automatically dim lights when the natural ambient lighting allows.
In addition, with additional control points to our Energy Management System (EMS), we can program the hallway lighting to reduce the number of fixtures lit during inactive times and ramp up the number as students change classes. In essence, the system would turn off two of every three hallway fixtures when the students are in class, and then, a few minutes before the end of each class, turn them on, backing off again when students are settled into the next class. It should be noted that emergency lighting would always stay on.
Our current EMS system dates back to roughly 1999, which for computer systems is old. While it has had some program updates, it lacks the control points necessary to make additional changes. Newer programs will also allow us to better monitor our electrical use, improve performance, and further reduce costs.
Where appropriate, we will add redundancy to our boiler plants. This will allow us to stage them and use only the necessary BTUs to provide heat to the occupied building spaces. A second benefit of having separate boilers is should one have a problem, the other can still heat the building while the affected unit is being fixed.
Both options have been discussed with the Board, but no decision can be made until the project is underway. This is because every subcontract for work (plumbing, electrical, etc.) will be bid, every material item will be bid (steel, cabinets, etc.), and even final interest rate costs will depend on the bond’s bid. Because the current referendum amount proposed is a budget – or in other words an estimate - should any of the project costs run higher than estimated, it is possible that if the $225,000 is not used to tear down the building it could be utilized towards completion of the other projects. It is important to note however, that in no instance can the Board exceed the total referendum cost taken to the voters.
The Board would have the final decision on what happens to the money if a sale of the building occurs. The Board could return the money to the taxpayers, use the money to complete projects that were not chosen to be part of the referendum due to maximum thresholds of cost the Board desired ($0 tax impact for question #1), deposit and hold the money for a future need, or a variety of other options.
The one recommendation that would not be made to the Board would be to use the one-time monies from the sale of the building for on-going operating costs such as salaries, benefits, utilities, and other standard budgetary items. While each year, our operating expenses exceed our revenues and we are forced to make cuts to staff, programs, and salary/benefit structures, we cannot rely on one-time funds to balance the budget. If we did, the structural deficits would only compound in the next year.
In 2012, the school board assembled an Ad-Hoc Facilities Committee charged with assessing the District’s needs and creating a masters facilities plan. In total, the master facilities plan calls for approximately $41 million (dependent upon the substance of any line item). The following were categories of importance identified by the committee:
Efficiency- consolidating facilities, maximizing classroom utilization, avoiding unnecessary duplication, maximizing staff, and updating facilities with new mechanics
Community Relations- inviting and welcoming to current families as well as families outside of East Troy
Safety and Security- ensuring that all buildings have a plan for making infrastructure safe and secure
Long-Term Vision- ensuring that facility plans demonstrate the ability to be changed, expanded, or reconfigured to align with the school’s long-term vision while also allowing flexibility
Fiscal Responsibility- meeting the most needs at the most reasonable price
21st Century Learning Spaces and Practices- incorporating larger classrooms and/or dedicated spaces to ensure personalized learning for each and every child that will support independent, small-group, and whole group work, as well as collaboration amongst students, project-based learning with dirty and clean areas, and the use of digital media, mobile furnishings, etc.
Space For Art Programs- securing an auditorium for both school and community use
Between now and 2018, the East Troy Community School District is paying off a considerable amount of debt from the previous Prairie View School and HS improvements referendum of 1999. With $1.7 million of annual principal and interest payments expiring, a new debt can take the place with no additional tax impact.
The chart below shows current debt payments in red. The blue lines show payments on a $22.5 million borrowing to address needs. The green lines show additional borrowing impact of another $2.2 million to fund the construction of second grade classrooms at the new PK-2 building.
This suggests that since the referendum passed would result in a tax impact of $16 annually per $100,000 of property value.
20-year borrowing at estimated interest rates of 2.50%, 4.00% and 4.50%
Mill Rate based on 2014 Equalized Valuation (TID-OUT) of $1,429,830,001 with annual growth of 0.00%