At a special meeting of the GFW School Board on Monday, December 12, board members heard information from a recent facilities assessment as well as options to address facility needs in the district. The meeting resulted in the approval of a capital improvement plan that will take effect in November 2023, as well as two elections for voters to consider new facility options.
An assessment was completed by Kraus Anderson and found that facility conditions are currently poor and approaching critical at both sites. A status of critical could mean significant potential safety concerns. The assessment shows that our students and staff are currently safe, but we need to address our facilities now in order to keep them safe. Needs include deferred maintenance, roof replacement, interior and systems needs, and more, many of which have the potential to impact operations if not addressed.
- Immediate Cost of repairs to become current: $50,189,000
- Total cost of repairs and improvements: $72,189,000
There were four action items that were approved by the board:
- A school board-approved $43 million dollar capital improvement plan to address facility needs. The capital improvement plan will begin in November 2023 with taxes commencing in taxes payable 2024 if a new facility does not move forward. While this total would not address all district educational inadequacies, a timeline of phased projects could maintain current facilities while the district and community work together to approve a long-range plan.
- The 10-year Long-Term Facility Maintenance plan which is part of the capital improvement plan and allows the district to sell bonds as part of the increase in November 2023.
In addition, the board approved referendum elections in order to give voters options to decide on a facility solution, as well as consider reducing the operating levy due to savings of operating a single school site. By proposing a new facility in April, the district hopes to be in a new building in fall of 2025 instead of fall of 2026 if they waited until November, while also avoiding rising construction costs.
- A building bond referendum election for April 2023. The proposal will consist of two questions:
- The first question will allow voters to consider the option to construct a centrally located 7-12 facility ($55 million) as a first step towards an eventual transition to a centrally located PreK-12 facility.
- The second question will allow voters to consider an additional $14.9 Million resulting in a centralized PreK-12 facility.
- A building bond referendum and operating levy election for November 2023.
- The building questions are the same as the April election and would be eliminated if approved in April.
- If both building questions are approved by voters, the district is also proposing to revoke the current operating levy of $1,406.30 per pupil and replace it with a new levy of $996.30 ($410 less per pupil) due to the cost savings of a single site. This would result in a reduction of costs to the taxpayers and allow the district to maintain current programming.
The State of Minnesota limits operating levy questions to be considered by voters to November elections unless certain criteria are met. The district is committed to passing the savings of a new single site facility onto taxpayers and is committing now to allowing voters to consider revoking and replacing the operating levy at a lower amount if the single site option moves forward.
Consulting firm TeamWorks will be working with the district on board development and community engagement. More information will be coming soon.
Watch the full board meeting from December 12, 2022 to see the full presentation, staff input, and school board discussion.
(Note that the due to technical difficulties, the first few minutes of the meeting can be found in a separate video)
As always, if you have any questions about our district, please feel free to reach out to me via email at email@example.com