$1.25 Million Crane School Bond Issue on April Ballot
“Think of it like refinancing,” says Dr. Johnson of the no-tax increase bond
January 18, 2018
“Here in the old middle school, when it rains we have to put buckets out,” says Crane Superintendent Dr. Chris Johnson. “We’ve patched and patched the roof. At this point, we need to get it fixed before the sub-roof becomes damaged and the repairs get even more expensive.”
When voters in the Crane school district go to the polls in April, they will have the opportunity to vote on Proposition 4. This $1.25 million bond issue will primarily be used for facilities improvements, Dr. Johnson said.
“I want to make it clear for everyone, this bond issue will not raise our debt service,” Johnson said. Currently, residents of the school district pay two separate taxes for schools, one for operations, and one for debt-service. The operations tax varies year to year, as it covers teachers salaries, gas, staff, etc. “I can’t promise if the operations tax will stay the same,” she said, “But, the financial firm, LJ Hart, is confident that this extension won’t increase the amount we are paying back. It’s sort of like refinancing your mortgage, but we are just extending the length of time we are paying back and getting more cash up front to help take care of the school.”
If this bond issue is not approved, Johnson is worried that repair costs will have to come out of the operating budget. “We can’t just pay cash for all of these up front from our budget,” Johnson said. “I worry that we would have cut back on funding or even teachers. But, it’s getting to the point that we have to do something.”
“Part of it is timing,” Dr. Johnson said, “We are in a good place with our debt service where we are still ok eight years out if something big comes up.”
The roof replacement is expected to cost about $500,000, Johnson said. With the rest of the money, the school has a prioritized list of improvements. “There are 9 in room HVAC units that need to be replaced. They don’t work well, and when the do work, they are loud, making it hard for the students to hear. There are also a few doors that are hard to latch. Safety is so important.” Other improvements being considered include cafeteria upgrades.
Johnson touted the stewardship and leadership of the school board. “They are good stewards of our money and have been very proactive in taking care of things. They agree that now is the time to pursue these improvements.”
Dr. Johnson shared images of some of the damage that the leaking roof has caused. In the Computer Lab, numerous tiles in the ceiling are damaged and stained. Some of the wall paint in that room is also peeling because of the moisture.
The ballot is Proposition 4. “We chose Proposition 4 because it is 4 our kids and 4 our facilities,” Johnson said.
If the bond measure does pass in April, Johnson hopes to start work over the summer when the facilities are not in heavy use. “The roof and the HVAC units are the main priorities,” she said. “Whatever we have left, we will go down the list to the doors and cafeteria upgrades.”
The specific ballot language follows:
Shall the Board of Education of the Crane R-III School District, Missouri, without an estimated increase in the current debt service property tax levy, borrow money in the amount of One Million Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($1,250,000) for the purpose of providing funds to install new roofs at the old middle school and elementary school; replace heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) split systems with new roof top units; increase security with new entrance doors; upgrade cafeteria and outdoor maintenance equipment; to the extent funds are available, complete other repairs and improvements to the existing facilities of the District; and issue bonds for the payment thereof? If this proposition is approved, the adjusted debt service levy of the School District is estimated to remain unchanged at $0.99 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation of real and personal property.
There will not be a school board election this year, as the number of applicants and the number of open positions match.
Four Day Week follow-up
Dr. Johnson reported that of 152 respondents to a Four-Day Week follow-up survey, 93% felt positively about the change. “Most people love it,” Johnson said. “They said that if feels like the weekends are theirs again, because the students have Monday to catch up for school. Families also said they like having a day for the doctor.” Teachers also reportedly liked having the full weekend for themselves and their families. “If you come up here on a Monday, you’ll see a lot of teachers here, but they come on their schedules and have more energy to work on what they need to do.”
The main negative comments on the new schedule came from families having to spend more on childcare. “There was one, however, where they said their daughter missed being in school,” Johnson added.