Many of you know that El Dorado Springs R-2 Schools is again running a bond campaign for the construction of new facilities.
This will be the district’s third attempt at convincing the voters to support this project. The last two times the issue fell short with slightly under 50% of the vote being in favor. A little over 57% is required to pass the issue in this election.
In the dozens of conversations I have had with patrons regarding the bond issue over the last year, the biggest objection raised has been the uncertainty as to the “need” of the district for these improvements vs. the “want”. When the facilities committee originally went through the entire planning process and identified and prioritized the facility needs of the district, we had a list of about 30 improvements. Several of the proposed were eliminated because they were things that would have been luxuries. The rest were studied, assigned an estimated dollar figure, and totaled up. At that time the list was a little over $11 million. We pared down the list until we were at $7 million, and began the planning process from there. (Please see the ad elsewhere in the paper for a complete list of concerns that are addressed by the project.)
The total construction cost now stands at $7.950 million (up from $7.5 million a year ago due to increased construction costs). We recognize that this is a large amount of money, and that it is not a financial burden to be taken lightly by the community. The project currently consists of 18 new classrooms, a kitchen / cafeteria, and a Middle School gym.
The project will require a 38 cent levy increase which amounts to a 10.2% overall increase in the school tax levy. This will not double your school taxes, as was widely reported during previous attempts to pass this bond issue. In terms of costs for property, this amounts to a $72.20 increase on $100,000 worth of real estate, $45.60 on $100,000 worth of farm land and $12.54 on a car worth $10,000. The district has enrolled in the Qualified Zone Academy Bond program which is a Federal program that will pay the interest on $1.5 million of the bonds. The QZAB program offsets the increased construction costs leaving us with almost the same levy increase as before.
I have been asked: “Why do we need this now?” In short, we will never see better interest rates or lower construction costs. Both of these are going to increase as time passes. Every month delayed will cost more money. Some have questioned why we need more space when we just passed an issue for new construction 14 years ago. Please remember that the 2000 bond issue did not allow for any new space-it only provided enough classrooms to move our students out of the trailers. Requirements for class size and program offerings have changed in the last few years leaving us with deficits in many program areas. We feel that, barring any sudden growth in the community, this project will satisfy the facility needs for the district for the life of the bonds. (20 years).
I feel that the real question is “Do we owe it to the children of this community to make these improvements?” I was fortunate to attend El Dorado Springs R-2 in the 1970′s when the High School building was nearly new. We had that privilege because forward thinking citizens passed a bond issue to provide that facility for us.
The need is well demonstrated, the urgency to act is there – it just needs the stamp of approval from the patrons to make it happen. I hope you will consider supporting this bond issue for the benefit of our kids, our community and our future. If we are not moving forward, then we are most certainly moving backward.
Superintendent of Schools