By now you have noticed that we did not go the route of using Constant Contact as a means to keep everyone informed as to the progress of the construction of the building. We are also discussing moving away from using Thought Exchange as a way of surveying our community. We have had some valuable input over the years, from community members using Thought Exchange, but the numbers of those participating has fallen off and the cost of using this service is quite costly. We will include a discussion of community engagement in the strategic planning and hopefully will find a suitable mechanism to keep the community informed.
So, what's been happening with the building construction?
After two long summer months of very little happening, we are finally seeing some construction at the site. Our delay was mostly due to red tape- the waiting for permits from the state was torturous. However, now we see a lot of things happening at the site. Daily, we see progress of the construction-even if the weather hasn't cooperated all that much this summer. I like to tell people when they ask- "they are pouring between pours." The kids have enjoyed taking breaks from their studies to stare at the action right outside their window. This is exciting for our school and community. I know this has been a long process and at times quite exhausting. We couldn't have done it without a great deal of support. I go back to the community and expecially the tax payers to thank them for their support of this awesome project. We are grateful, and on behalf of the students and families we serve-Thank you so very much!
Despite the delays from red tape or weather, we are on track to get the building up and enclosed before winter sets in. If everything goes right, we should see an enclosed structure by the end of November. Then the crews will have the winter to get the inside finished and be ready for more outdoor work once Spring arrives.
In the meantime, we have a lot of work to do to plan for how we intend to fill up the boxes we are building. I'm spending time meeting with people who can advise me on the types of furniture that will impact the learning environment and ultimatelty help our students learn even better. Once we get our strategic planning going, we will meet with staff, parents, students and the community at large to discuss programming needs and the overall goals for the district's future.
The process starts with a discussion of the portrait of a graduate. What skills does a Cleveland graduate need in order to be successful after high school? We need to look at the trends in education and have discussions about the design spaces and programs that support the community's vision. I look forward to those conversations and the sharing of ideas.
I for one, like building things. It has been a great honor and privilege to serve as the District's Superintendent over the years; and I'm thrilled and excited to be a part of the planning and vision setting work that will launch the Clipper ship into an exciting new future.
We are ushering in an exciting time for the Cleveland District. We have been busy with the next steps of the bond project. The Board has selected R.A. Morton as our Construction Management Firm. They will work closely with Corey Brunton -Brunton Architects and Engineers to design and then get the packages out for bids. We plan on being ready to dig sometime in May of 2019.
The Cleveland District received an A3 rating from Moody's Investors Service. A3 is a fairly strong rating and received this rating in part due to the benefits from strong open enrollment trends and favorable resident incomes levels. The rating attracted 8 bidders and gained us a more favorable premium from potential buyers.
The Board recently approved a resolution awarding the sale of bonds to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, New York, New York for $18,740,000. The winning bid contained a large premium allowing the district to issue less in bonds. The lower interest costs along with the lower bond, results in the district's total anticipated levy over the term of bonds to be approximately $1,065,000 less than pre-election estimates.
The Board reviewed four proposals from possible investment partners. The Board approved Hometown Bank as our investment partner. The Board and I have the utmost confidence in our local bank- Mr. Schweim to provide the district with top notch bond proceeds management services.
Please continue to sign up on our web page to receive our Constant Contact news/ updates, as we will be using this platform to keep our parents and community members informed to the progress of the building project.
Along with the Constant Contact updates we will also be conducting two Thought Exchange Surveys this year. The first survey will gather general feedback on the bond and planning for the next steps; and the second survey will further refine the feedback and gather the results to be used with our summer of 2019 Strategic Planning Session.
It has been a great start to the school year. I look forward to working with you to build the future of the Cleveland School.
I am pleased to announce the District is bringing the bond project to our residents for a vote on August 14, 2018. The Cleveland School District took a year off to explore options for the project and to gather more community input. The survey we sent out in the fall of 2017, and was returned by 420 residents of this district. Two thirds of the Cleveland District residents support seeking a new referendum. In the survey, nearly 4 out of 5 school district residents believe updated educational spaces are critical to preparing students for their future, and more than two thirds would support additional tax dollars to upgrade the school with new classroom spaces.
Facility deficiencies have not gone away at the Cleveland Public School, and residents want the district to make investments. The School Board heard the residents speak and will seek voter approval of a referendum on August 14th, 2018. The bond project has a new option for voters.
"While voters wanted the school district to propose a new referendum, many commented that their support is dependent on a number of factors, " McCabe said. "So we decided to split the project into two questions to provide the voters with options."
"Sections of our building that need upgrades were built during the Truman administration nearly 70 years ago and aren't compliant with current code." said School Board Chairperson Ron McCabe. "Our kids are impacted daily by deficient space. They also are impacted by not enough space. This limits student opportunity in STEM, art, band, phy. ed., and other academics."
The Board approved a two question referendum ballot that asks voters to approve bond levies that would pay for facility investments as follows:
Question 1. Roof replacement, HVAC improvements, code improvements, safety and security improvements; and the construction of classroom additions, a cafeteria, a STEM Lab and an Ag./Tech Lab ($14.4 million)
Question 2. Construction and equipping of a gymnasium, locker rooms, mechanical room, and a weight room ($5 million)
The total cost of the project is $19.5 million. $1.5 million more than the last referendum due to inflation in construction costs.
The Board would also like everyone to know that even though the bond project was divided into two questions, that both questions are considered to be critical needs for our school district.
Please keep in mind that question 2 is contingent on the passing of question 1. When voting please remember to vote for or against both questions. The results for each question are tallied separately. However question 2 cannot pass unless question one passes.
Stay tuned. More Bond news to come.
The last article in the paper (November 2017) said, that as a District we have resumed talks about a bond project. The reality is that the dialogue for a bond project started in 1996 and has never stopped. It is true that the Board is talking about setting a date on the calendar to put a bond project back to the voters. The discussion at this time is to explore options for moving forward. The needs of this district are very real and still with us. We are taking the time to explore other options for the project. We have looked into other funding mechanisms including grants and have determined that those other funding mechanisms will not provide the funding needed for a growth project. We are looking for ways to cut some of the costs. The article in the paper indicated that we are trying to find a way to drop the costs down to $14 mil. Keep in mind, that that figure was only a target and a loose target at that. In order to reduce the project costs down to $14 mil, we have to reduce the square footage of the project. The $4 mil shift in building new then turns to the existing building built in 1949, 1962 and 1974 to make renovations and upgrades. It is uncertain that we will be able to make the target of $14 mil as the costs for renovating a space can cost more than building new. We also have to weigh the expense very carefully, as we would be pouring millions into renovating some very old spaces in the building. These old spaces have issues associated with them. By the time we explore the costs with updates such as lighting efficiencies, electrical, acoustics, air quality, code issues, safety standards etc. you begin to discover it is cheaper to build new. Also keep in mind that the option to reduce square footage does not then address all of our needs as a district. It does however address some of our very critical needs and does help to move this district forward. It is our hope that by January, 2018 we will have several options for the Board to discuss, with some real numbers of costs, needs etc. Stay tuned as I will continue to blog about the thoughts and progress of bond project.
The facilities task force group met last night to discuss ways to get the information out to our taxpayers regarding the building bond and ways to gather more feedback from all parties.
Three areas of criticism stood out from our two previously failed bond referendums.
There were three areas that drove our discussion: 1. How can we do a better job of defining and communicating the district's needs. 2. How do we do a better job of gathering feedback and building consensus and ownership with our taxpayers?
3. What data are we missing and how do we get accurate data out to all parties?
We all agreed, that by taking the year to listen and communicate our needs, will be an important step to a successful bond referendum.
Our first task is to mail out a short survey to all registered taxpayers and ask them to take the time to fill out a short survey and return the survey in the self-addressed stamped envelope provided. We decided to use the paper method versus hiring a company or using other more expensive survey methods.
The information you provide will drive our bond planning process. Our goal is to work with you to put forth a building project that the majority can support.
We need your help and guidance.
We invite you to take this year get to know who we are - We are "CLIPPERS" - proud of our tradition and our past but also looking to build our future and prepare all the children we serve for their future.
Together we can accomplish great things!
The Cleveland School-Independent School District #391 is the "Heart of this Community"
Brian J. Phillips
Greetings: The Cleveland School Board approved postponing the building bond for one year. Over the next twelve months the district will work on gathering additional feedback regarding the school district facilities. The board will re-evaluate the facilties project in April or May of next year and make a determination about the building project at that time.
Let me start by saying...thank you to all the people who worked behind the scenes and out in front during this Bond Referendum process. A great number of people shared some very nice sentiments about this school and community.
It failed...and now what? We all should start by taking a deep breath and take a step back to reflect on the process. Many people spent a great deal of time in meetings or talking to people about the needs of our school and the needs of our students. The more invested you are in the process the harder it is to accept failure. Truthfully, it hurts. I know that feelings are running high and we are disappointed in the results. But...we need to remember why we are doing this and we cannot accomplish what we need to do, without working together as a community/district. We need each other and we need to work together to solve this.
We are the Cleveland District and we all have the right to our opinions and our votes. That is how the process works. We will reconvene the Task Force Steering Committee to discuss the next steps. Our needs aren't going away and the costs to get it done will only go up as the process is delayed.
We need to hear from you. One possible next step is to send a letter to every household of registered voters asking for feedback. What are our options? Is there anything we can scale back on? What annual increase amount would you be willing to support?
In the meantime...as we go back to the drawing board and determine our next steps ,...the good news is that...we have a healthy fund balance, our sports, music and educational programs are stronger than ever. We have a dedicated staff and community that support what we are trying to do here. We will continue to work on strengthening all of our programs and work on attracting new families and students to our school and community. We will not give up on this mission because it is too important to us, our community, our school and the families that we serve.
The Cleveland School continues to shine brightly and is a beacon of welcome to any family and students who enter our school doors. We promise to nurture them, care for their well-being and educational preparedness. And ...when the time comes...send them forth prepared with 21st century skills and the confidence to make a difference in this world.
Thank you...the journey continues.......
Yes, it is true. We are going out again for a Bond Referendum scheduled on February 7th, 2017. Following the failed bond referendum of last May, we went right back to the drawing board to make changes. We met again as a group to discuss the results and what we were hearing from our voters. We put out another survey to gather more feedback from our taxpayers. We want you to know that we heard you. The project has been scaled back from the original $34 million to slightly under $18 million. One project, one question -$18 mill. Around $15 million is designed for the new construction. The new section will include a gym, a lobby or multi-purpose area and a wing of classrooms. The classrooms include a band practice room, four elementary classrooms, a stem room, a new shop area, three secondary classrooms plus a new art room. The lower lobby are will also include restrooms, concession area and the kitchen.
The new wing will allow us to re-purpose several classrooms or areas in the exiting facility that will address a number of our needs. The things we cut from the project include: The Performing Arts Center, the commons area, the walking track and the fitness center. We also cut a number of projects that were being planned for the existing facility. We had identified about $6 million in upgrades and renovations to the existing facility and now out of the $18 million bond we will have earmarked $1 to $1.5 million of those dollars towards the existing facility. We will identify the highest priorities first and see how far the dollars will take us.
Please go to the school's web site for more information on tax impacts etc.
On behalf of the District, I want to assure our tax payers that we will use the funding in a fiscally sound way, that serves to meet the needs of our students and keeps this community and school going strong.
In regards to the Bond referendum our motto is " WITH the community ...not TO the community"
You are cordially invited to attend the Bond Referendum Informational meeting to be held at the school on Tuesday, May 10th at 7:00 P.M. in the big gym.
We will have representatives from Brunton Architects, Ehlers Financial and the Cleveland School District on hand to answer your questions.
I have created a list of the top twenty four questions and answers and it is available on the school's web page.
We hope to see you there.
The School's web site now has a resource from Ehlers to better understand the tax impact of the proposed Bond Referendum. The property tax information site provided by Ehlers has a lot of useful information and numbers to call if you should need additional assistance with the tax impact.
If you go to the school's web page and right in front there is a link to property tax information. Included in the information is a tax impact table that can be located by going to step 5- method A and there is a link that says click here.
The tax impact table is divided by Question 1 and 2 and then the total of the project in the third column (if both questions pass).
Please don't hesitate to call Ehlers for additional information or you can contact me (Mr. Phillips) directly to ask questions. I can be reached at 507-484-1300.