The two-year long work of the Board of Education on the Middle School Project is coming to its culmination. As evidenced through the recent informational workshops, our community has many questions and concerns when presented with the ideas for the renovation of the 1930’s school at its present site. In the course of the presentations, and in the pages of this newspaper, it has become apparent that misinformation and rumor have been often presented as fact. In order for the public to make an informed decision about the project, I offer the following information:
1 – RUMOR: The current debt obligations of the district are $80 million dollars.
TRUTH: Our district currently has a total debt load of $24 million dollars. We have presently less debt load than other districts with similar enrollments and budgets and have an excellent credit rating.
2– RUMOR: The district will reduce Kindergarten to ½ day as a result of the project and then continue this forward when the building re-opens.
TRUTH: The Board has given the superintendent direction to maintain full-day Kindergarten during the renovation year. There has never been a discussion to change our Kindergarten program. Our commitment is to continue full-day Kindergarten.
3– RUMOR: We will expend reserve funds—savings accounts—for this project that we should be saving for other purposes.
TRUTH: We are going to be drawing upon the $2.8 million of Capital Reserve, Debt Service and Capital Funds which have been established expressly for this purpose. They can ONLY be used for capital projects and for no other purpose.
4—RUMOR: We should build at the high school site because it would be cheaper.
TRUTH: Two years ago, we looked into this alternative. We were told then, and have revisited this within the past weeks, that the cost of building at that site would be more expensive, $60-65 million for a similar building at that site. On top of that, there would be additional costs to acquire land as the land at the high school site is not large enough to accommodate an additional school (according to state regulations). Lastly, the reimbursement rates available to us from state aid for new construction are less than for renovation.
5 – RUMOR: The project will be more affordable if we put it off for a few years.
TRUTH: Putting the project off will in fact make it more expensive. In the present economy, interest rates are at historic lows. That means that the cost of borrowing the money has never been cheaper. As the economy improves, interest rates will go up to combat inflationary pressures. As anyone who has a home mortgage knows and as recent refinancing attests to, the higher cost of borrowing money is a significant part of long-term financial obligations. Additionally, through our state-mandated process of competitive bidding, we will save significantly as firms are eager to obtain work. Lastly, we have been advised that over time, project costs escalate at about 4% per year. For most of the community, it is unlikely that their earnings will keep pace with these cost increases. That means that the same project five years down the road will be both more expensive as a total number as well as taking a bigger bite of our incomes.
What is the project going to cost as presently configured? At its most expensive, for the average household in the district assessed at a value of $297,000, the cost would be an additional sixty three (63) cents per day starting in the fall of 2015. After that, it would either go down or stay the same.
There is additional information available on the district website at www.npcsdms.edublogs.org as well as the presentation that is being shown at the community information sessions. There will be additional community information sessions on December 1, 7:00 PM at the High School and December 9, 7:00 PM at the Middle School. All members of the Board are eager to speak with members of the public. We’re in the phone book! Please call.
For the members of the Board, it is most important that people have all the facts and information so they can make their decision based on data, not rumor. We may not all agree on the direction to take. These are difficult times. Let’s make our decision based on hard data and facts, not misinformation and fear.
David DuklerBoard President