USD 489 short of what it needs to meet facility improvement goals
Posted Jan 13, 2021 6:01 AM
By CRISTINA JANNEY
The Hays school board Monday night focused on doing what it can to fix its existing facilities with the money it will likely have during the next five years in its capital outlay budget.
Superintendent Ron Wilson said he hoped the discussion would hep identify short- and long-term goals for the district's facilities. However, he acknowledged those priorities will likely change as new needs arise.
The superintendent brought to the board a grid showing the condition of the facilities in the district. Wilson compiled the grid with the help of Buildings and Grounds Director Rusty Lindsay.
More than half of the buildings in the district are in need of work to their HVAC and plumbing systems.
"I point out that we have done a lot of work," Wilson said. "It's not all red. We have done a lot of work by being very sensible about our dollars. The green is low attention and a lot of those are because we have put dollars toward maintenance, upgrading and improving those areas."
The district has an average annual capital outlay revenue of about $2.9 million. The July 1 carryover for FY21 was $2.77 million.
"We spend an average of $3.1 million in capital outlay every year, and that is just to keep everything going," Wilson said.
The district has about $1.4 million in recurring capital expenses annually. The $85,ooo for the superintendent's equipment and projects is for other projects and purchases that are needed, but not otherwise budgeted. Wilson said it is not a personal funding account.
The district is already obligated to pay $645,000 in lease payments this year for the Hays Middle School classroom addition, Early Childhood Complex project and technology leases.
Board President Mike Walker noted the board has discussed most of the capital projects for the current school year.
The O'Loughlin Elementary School secure entrance project has received approval from the board and gone out for bids.
The secure entrance project for Wilson Elementary School was given the go ahead by the board at its meeting Monday night. That project is just entering the design phase and is estimated to cost $500,000.
The district wants to update security cameras in all of its schools, starting with the HHS and HMS in 2020-21.
After a recent visit from the fire marshal, the district learned HMS has fire doors that are not up to code. The district plans to replace those this year at a cost of $20,000.
The track at HMS is in disrepair and has deep crevices in the surface. The school had a student fall in one of the holes in the track and hurt himself. The cost of repairing the track this year is estimated at $150,000.
The windows at Wilson Elementary School are in dire need of work, Wilson said. Most of the windows can't be opened. Those that can be opened can't be shut once they are open, Principal Anita Scheve said.
After recurring expenses, the district has about $1.7 million to spend on capital projects. The proposed project list for 2020-21 equals an estimated $1.9 million. This means the district would have to dip slightly into its reserves to complete all the project on the list.
The district has about $2.7 million in reserve. In addition, it just received $495,000 for the sale of the former Washington school.
The district will pay off the last payment for the lease agreement on the HMS sixth-grade classroom addition in 2021-22.
"You have added 14 classrooms to the middle school, and it is still about four short," Wilson said.
The district will have its first payment on a lease agreement for the new HVAC system at Roosevelt Elementary School in 2021-22. That project will be started this summer. The project is out for bids now.
The HHS HVAC system needs repairs at an estimated cost of $4.5 million. However, Wilson said the district does not have the budget to make all the repairs at this time.
The district would like to resurface the track and replace or repair the old tennis court at the HHS at an estimated cost of $500,000 for both projects.
Security camera replacement at the elementary schools is also budgeted for the 2021-22 school year.
Other major long-term projects
• $1.4 million for a culinary classroom at HHS. This would be used by the Helping Hands program, so those students wouldn't have to bused from HHS to Rockwell Administration Center. The district has discussed using space dedicated for Helping Hands at Rockwell for the Learning Center, which is temporarily located at the Hadley Center.
• $2.6 million for a classroom and cafeteria expansion at HMS
• $1.5 plumping repipe for Roosevelt
• $1.5 plumping repipe for Wilson
• $1.5 plumping repipe for O'Loughlin
• $1.5 plumping repipe for Lincoln
• $1.8 million for HVAC replacement at Wilson
• $2.5 million renovation of the auditorium at Rockwell to repair the HVAC, electrical and lighting.
"We have some fine arts groups that do some tremendous projects and presentations, and they are doing it in a less than ideal auditorium," Wilson said.
He said the $2.5 million would only bring the auditorium up to minimum standards.
"For a 5A district, it is not adequate," Wilson said of the auditorium.
• $100,000 to add a street to Rome Road. This would be an attempt to relieve some of the congestion on Hall Street at O'Loughlin.
• $843,000 for turf field at HHS with the goal of playing football games there.
• $726,000 for a softball field at HHS.
• $100,000 for an elevator at Lincoln to make it Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.
"I think if we are going to continue, we are going to have to put a lot of dollars into Lincoln," Wilson said.
• $100,000 for an elevator at Rockwell
"What you can see is that we don't have enough capital outlay dollars to do all of this," Wilson said. "This is a vision of where our needs are in the district and where we need to look at to make things happen."
He added the district will not be able to do some of the large projects without additional revenue in terms of a bond issue or by increasing the district's lease payments.
"The one thing that jumps out me is that the district is working as hard as possible to meet our facilities needs without a bond—without some other revenue," Walker said. "I think people should understand that we are doing everything we can, and to do some of these other things, we are going to have to discuss a bond."
Wilson warned against becoming too burdened with lease payments, because then the district would not have enough funds available for maintenance.
Board member Lance Bickle said other buildings would suffer if the district put large amounts into lease payments for large projects like the HVAC system at HHS.
Wilson said based on the dollars the district has available, a more realistic capital plan would be stretched out another 30 years.
Board member Craig Pallister said the deferred capital outlay list for the district has continued to grow over the years.
"We have done a good job of meeting the immediate needs, but we have not been able to move forward with the improvement of the facilities in the district," Pallister said.
Wilson noted the newest building in the district with the exception of the ECC, is HHS, which is 40 years old. The oldest building is Lincoln, which is 95 years old.
"You have a lot of buildings that are right around the same age," he said. "Things just start to fail all at the same time. At some point, I think we're going to have to build a new facility."