Our Kids… Their Future - Addressing Woodford County’s Facility Needs
January 18, 2018: The Woodford County Board of Education passed (5-0 vote) a 5.5 cent facilities tax to address the facilities needs identified by the Local Planning Committee during the spring of 2017.
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The following information is being provided to answer the most frequently asked questions regarding the facilities tax:
Identifying the needs of the district
Every four years, the school district forms a district Local Planning Committee (LPC), which consists of teachers, administrators, a board of education member, parents and community members. The LPC is charged with developing a plan that identifies the facility needs to be addressed by the district over a four year period. This plan guides the board in prioritizing available funds so that items on the facility plan can be completed. In both the 2013 and 2017 facility plans, the LPC identified a new high school as the number one priority. The cost of a new high school would be between 46 and 47 million dollars and the total cost for all items listed in the plan is nearly 56 million dollars. This total is considered to be our “unmet need”.
Why is a new high school needed?
Education has changed dramatically since 1964 (the year WCHS opened) and our students deserve the most current learning space we can provide. A new high school would bring expanded opportunities in academics, the arts and athletics, thus allowing our students to be even more competitive. Features such as new science and engineering labs, collaborative spaces for students and teachers and an auditorium/theatre would all be included in a new facility. A sixty-one acre tract of land adjacent to Woodford County Middle School was purchased in 2012 for the purpose of a new high school. This 95 acre campus housing both WCHS and WCMS would allow our schools to share facilities and resources.
Where are we now?
Bonding capacity is the amount the school district is eligible to bond (or borrow) to complete new construction or renovation projects. This bonding capacity is determined by our outstanding debt as well as our projected revenue. Our district currently has a bonding capacity of 13.8 million dollars, far less than the cost of a new high school.
Why is our bonding capacity only 13.8 million?
Since 2004, the district has completed five major projects at a cost of approximately 34 million dollars. These projects include construction of the middle school (completed in 2004), the Simmons renovation project (completed in 2005), the Huntertown renovation project (completed in 2008) and the Northside and Southside HVAC projects (completed in 2016). Our bonding capacity is determined in large part by our outstanding debt on these projects.
Can we increase our bonding potential to address our unmet including a new high school?
In order to increase our bonding capacity (the amount we could borrow) to meet our unmet need, including a new high school, we must raise our revenue. Methods available to increase revenue include an occupational tax, raising our current assessment rate or a facilities tax. A facilities tax is the preferred method compared to the other options for several reasons- the revenue raised is restricted and can only be used for new construction or renovations projects; it allows the district to apply for state matching funds; and it will raise the needed revenue immediately.
How much of a tax is needed and what will it generate?
A 5.5 cent facilities tax would generate an additional 1.5 million dollars each year and raise our bonding capacity to between 45 and 53 million dollars. This would allow the district to build a new high school and have additional money that can be applied to other projects identified on the facilities plan. If, in addition to the local revenue raised, the district were to receive state matching funds, this would only increase our bonding potential. The exact amount of a state match is not known at this time, but it would not be a one to one match.
How will the tax impact a property owner in Woodford County?
If a home is valued at $150,000, the increase on the tax bill would be $82.50 or $6.88 per month. For a home valued at $200,000, the tax bill would go up by $110 a year or $9.17 per month.
What happens if no facilities tax is enacted?
If additional revenue is not generated, our bonding capacity would gradually increase as we pay down our current debt. At the current rate, the district would not be able to address our top priority need of a new high school until at least 2028. The actual date could be later if other bonded facility projects were needed between now and then. Thus, our number one priority identified on the last two facility plans could not be considered for at least 11 more years.
If a new high school is built, what happens to the current high school building?
Because the current high school has been well maintained, the Local Planning Committee recommended utilizing the building for a variety of functions. Those include the central office, the alternative school, adult education programs and other district-wide services. One of the most exciting potential uses of the building could be for a new technical pathway that would help prepare our students for the manufacturing and logistics jobs here in Woodford County.
If you have questions that you would like to direct specifically to our board of education members or the superintendent, please do so by utilizing the email addresses below:
Chairman Ambrose Wilson IV firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice Chair Debby Edelen email@example.com
Board Member Margie Cleveland firstname.lastname@example.org
Board Member Sherri Springate email@example.com
Board Member Karen Brock firstname.lastname@example.org
Superintendent Scott Hawkins email@example.com