It is time to vote! Ballots have been mailed out. Please remember that both bond ballots need to pass in order for the new 7-12 facility to be built. Please consider your vote carefully and review the information below.
Our school has continued to look at the immediate facility needs of the district and to develop a plan that takes that into account as well as how it would affect the district long term. The biggest areas of need include our agricultural classroom and shop, our science classrooms/labs, and some dedicated computer/math classrooms. We need to move the students in our modular classrooms into regular building classrooms that are larger, more educationally friendly and more energy efficient. We need to do something with the kitchen to increase prep areas and to help serve students faster. And we need a gym with new locker rooms and a weight room.
We have continued to explore these needs through a facilities committee that has been meeting for about a year. They recommended bringing in an owners’ rep-Mark Qualman- to help develop the focus of the group and then through a Request for Qualifications provided a couple architectural firms for the Board to interview. Those interviews resulted in Collaborative Design Architects being hired to refine our needs into a cohesive project.
We have had four different public presentations about what is going on that involved public input on the project’s scope, including cost and tax impact on November 11, December 15, January 20, and March 10. There will be one more public meetings on April 14 to answer questions and make sure the bond language is understood.
Here are some of the key presentations shared with the community:
- What has the district requested money (levies) for in the last 10 years? Eight years ago the district asked the voters to approve a 10 year levy for both the high school and the elementary for technology in the amount of $10,000 per district per year. That money only goes towards purchase and maintenance of technology. Five years ago the district asked for a building reserve levy in the amount of $300,000 to replace the roofs on the schools. That was a temporary levy that was completed a year ago. Two years ago the district asked for a general fund levy for both the high school and elementary. That is a permanent levy that pays for operational costs of the school, including salary.
- Why does the district buy a bus when trying to build a facility? School districts have a multitude of funds that are narrowly defined in scope as to what the funds can be used for. Transportation and Bus Depreciation funds can only be used for transportation related expenditures. The funds come in from both local and state revenues and can only be used in those funds. Retirement revenues come in the same way and can only be used for retirement. General Fund revenues come in from state and local funds and voted levies. Those funds are used specifically for the annual operations of the school-the budget for our annual operations is set by the state and the budget is use it or lose it. The building fund is also a narrowly defined fund. We can use it for the costs associated with building, not for general operational salaries. The revenue is for the building fund is determined by a voted 10-30 year levy which would allow for repaying bonds that would be sold to pay for the facility.
- If you would like to figure out what the cost is to you as a taxpayer, please follow these instructions:
- Go to this website: http://svc.mt.gov/dor/property...
- Type in your last name or full name on the property search line and hit GO
- Narrow you search by clicking the county dropdown menu and clicking on Stillwater
- Click on your property result
- Find the 2022 market value
- Then look for your taxable value
- Multiply that taxable value number by 0.19598
- The result is the approximate amount it would cost annually
- What is the district asking the community to approve?
- A new 7-12 building that has class rooms, a new FCS area, a new Agriculture class and shop, a new music area, a new gym, and offices, as well as some key entry updates to the current school and some classroom remodel. It will cost $16,745,000.
- Why is the district running 2 separate bonds for this project?
- The district is made up of 2 different districts-the elementary and the high school. Because of the boundaries of the Molt and Columbus school districts, there is a slight difference in the two districts for Park City Schools. Each district has its own bonding capacity-each sits right between $10 million and $11 million. So in order to run this project, which does impact both elementary and high school students, we need to run 2 bonds.
- What happens if the bond requests pass in one district but not the other?
- We will quickly run some type of survey or meeting to determine why one failed and try to run the bond again as soon as possible in that district, with any modifications that seem necessary to pass it. If the district waits too long, the passed bond will not be collected on and we would need to reevaluate and try to run both again at a later time.
- What happens if my property value goes up? Will my tax for this building increase also?
- The number of mills you are taxed for this are based solely upon the dollar amount we would be approved for from the vote. So if it required $500,000 per year to pay off the bonds, that is all we would be taxed for on this building, regardless of increases or decreases to home valuations. And as more homes are built in the district, the amount each home owner would need to pay in taxes would decrease.
- Why not just add on to the current school?
- A key reason is that we are running out of ground on our current site. Any new addition will have a negative impact on playground space and parking, isn't really a long term solution.
- Our agriculture facility is separate from our school. We believe that it would be an even stronger program if actually attached to the 7-12 building.
- We have been notified by MHSA that we are moving to Class B for all activities except football. The student population criteria was adjusted this year so that schools between 100 and 300 would be Class B. So that happens in the 2023-2024 school year. Without a new gym we will have to explore alternative sites for many of our games. There is not really space at the current site for a new gym and we can't alter ours for more seating.
- Why do we need all that new space when our current space seems to make do?
- Our current facility is a building we take pride in. We have done a lot over the past eight years to update the building. We did the roof project, which is a long term solution to maintain the integrity of the facilities. We have updated HVAC throughout the school. We have done lots of flooring and painting over the years. We have added a multitude of safety systems. And we have done some remodel. But we still need more school. Between required special programs, classroom square footage, and being able to better prepare students for a world that utilizes technology without a second thought, we need space that is built to handle those needs.