On November 6th, New England Public School will hold a bond election for a General Obligation of approximately $5.6 million dollars. In order to pass this bond, the school needs 60% of the voters in favor of this obligation.
By Kelly Kopinger
The purpose for which the bonds are to be issued is to provide funds, together with any other funds available, to construct, remodel, improve and equip the current school buildings to include additions for classrooms, commons area, cafeteria, physical education, and public fitness facility, and to make site improvements to school property.
As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, our school has reached its capacity. Our student enrollment has more than doubled over the past nine years bringing our total student enrollment to 297 students in grades Pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in 2018.
Increased enrollment brings both opportunities and some challenges. To accommodate students, the district has had to utilize every classroom and every possible space we have available. Spaces that were not designed for instruction, such as storage closets, hallways, and the cafeteria, are regularly used for teaching and learning in an effort to meet current needs.
Last year our first-grade class started with 27 students; however, grew to 30 students. This year ourfirst-grade class has 28 students currently enrolled.
Although there isn’t any state mandate defining class size, reducing class size has been a perennial education improvement strategy often popular for its ability to give more individualized instruction time with students. The national ratio of students to teachers in public schools was around 16.0 students per teacher, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. We don’t have the ability to split our classes because there isn’t a room available. We are currently out of space.
The state approved our application for a school construction loan in mid-April of 2018. And, for us to be eligible for this loan, in this biennium, we need to have this proposal on the November election ballot.
Senate Bill No. 2178 authorized the Bank of North Dakota to provide up to $250 million for school construction loans to eligible school districts. Eligibility for school districts includes the following criteria:
New construction or remodeling projects with a cost of at least $1 million and an expected utilization of at least 30 years;
Project approval by the Superintendent of Public Instruction; and
The loan awards are subject to the advice and consent of the Superintendent of Public Instruction with priority given to student capacity, academic needs, safety and security, project costs, and other criteria established in rule by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. An eligible school district is limited to $20 million of loans from this program, we are looking at $5.6 million.
The loans are for a 20-year term unless the school district requests a shorter term. The interest rates on the loans will not exceed 2 percent. If we don’t utilize the School Construction Loan Program, we will be servicing a bond rate of around 4% to 4.5%. Just the difference in interest rates would add an additional $50,000 to $60,000 per year in debt service to this proposed project.
As a school, we must publish this notice of general obligation in our local paper. The state defines how we publish this notice. In the Herald, the notice will read, “If approved, the bond issue will result in an estimated additional millage of 25.98 mills, equal to $25.98 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation for the first taxable year.” With some additional revenue sources, the school has access to, we will not need the advertised 26 mills to see this project through. With the additional revenue, from other sources, I estimate the additional mills to be around 8-10 mills.
The tax impact on a house appraised at $100,000 would be an additional $54 per year. The tax impact on the average acre of land would amount to about $.32 per acre per year. The tax impact on commercial property appraised at $50,000 would be an additional $30 per year.
During the next several weeks, we will continue to provide more information regarding the need for this proposed building project. We have scheduled Public Input meetings on October 3rd, October 11th, and November 1stto be held in the gymnasium. We will provide more financial information and gather more input from the community and hopefully answer a few questions you may have regarding this proposal.
We hope to see you there!