What building projects will be completed if the referendum passes?
The Bureau Valley School Board of Education approved a resolution to place a public question on the ballot to issue bonds for the purpose of undertaking certain building projects in the District. The public question states as follows:
Shall the Board of Education of Bureau Valley Community Unit School District number 340, Bureau, Whiteside and Lee Counties, Illinois, build and equip additions to, alter, repair, equip and improve the site of the Bureau Valley High School, including, without limitation, adding classrooms and a new gymnasium; alter, repair, equip and improve the sites of the Wyanet Elementary and Bureau Valley North school buildings, including, without limitation, improving the heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems at both buildings and replacing bleachers at the Bureau Valley North building; abate asbestos and demolish the elementary school building in Manlius; and issue bonds of said School District to the amount of $12,000,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?
If the referendum passes, the Bureau Valley Board of Education will use the funds toward completion of the projects listed in the resolution. If approved, the District will undertake a bidding process for the projects listed in the resolution in a priority order established by the Board. The projects that have been given high priority are the HVAC upgrades at Walnut and Wyanet, bleacher replacement-Walnut, classroom additions with gymnasium at Manlius, and parking lot enhancements. Abatement and demolition to the Manlius Elementary building will be undertaken if sufficient funds are available. If sufficient funds are not immediately available, that project may be delayed to a future date when monies are available. Based upon preliminary construction cost estimates, the Board of Education expects that the abatement and demolition of Manlius Elementary may be delayed. Any projects not listed in the resolution will not be completed with bond proceeds.
What are the educational opportunities with the new additions?
- Additional elective opportunities for JH: Recommendations for additional electives are media art, introduction to business, current events, foreign language, industrial arts, ag, home economics, and health. The current art and instructional curriculum classes will remain.
- Additional clubs and activities: Recommendations are chess club, art club, junior high honors society, tech club, robotics club, coding club, STEAM club, and weightlifting club.
- Additional opportunities to take HS classes: Recommendations are Math I and English I taken as 8th graders, if students who meet the requirements to do so.
What will the special education programs look like at the HS with the new addition?
- All of the students who receive special education services will have their needs met. The types of services to meet those needs are listed in each student’s IEP. The District’s special education teachers, along with their administrators, the students’ parents, and the Bureau-Marshall-Putnam Tri-County Special Education Cooperative collaborate to develop a plan for appropriate instruction for each student in the group.
- The District takes into consideration the teachers’ workloads, such as paperwork, IEP meetings, and the students’ instructional minutes when determining how many students can be served effectively in a given special education class. Teacher assignments of particular tasks vary greatly from teacher to teacher, school to school, and district to district.
- The size of a particular special education class is determined based on the amount of time each of the students receives special education services during the school day.
- Special education teachers were on the team that planned and designed the new addition. They agreed the space designed will meet the needs of the students.
- The new addition allows for more special education classroom space than the teachers have now.
What additional safety measures will be considered for the new addition?
- The new additions will have a complete fire suppression sprinkler system and fire alarm system.
- The new additions will have security cameras placed to monitor entry areas, corridors and main office.
- The new additions and the existing High School will be outfitted with the BluePoint system, which is a rapid emergency response and command and control system for all types of emergencies. This system covers everything from active shooter/intruder to hazardous material spills to bad weather. It notifies police, administration and the building occupants of an emergency situation instantly and cuts down emergency response time dramatically. It initiates emergency protocols and allows greatly increased safety and security. It was selected as the best new security product of the year in 2014.
- The glass in the building will be fully tempered glass and the glass at the entry vestibules will have an alternate option to have a bullet resistive film installed on them for increased safety.
- The main entry vestibule is designed as a true “Secure Entry Vestibule”. All visitors will only be able to enter in through the first set of doors. A visitor would then be buzzed into the main office where they can be properly checked in before entry is allowed to the school area.
- The building is designed to blend in with the existing HS and will be constructed with solid masonry materials inside and out. Walls will be solid brick and block on the exterior and the interior walls are also solid CMU blocks. The windows are designed to be in specific locations for the most design impact and the use of glass is intentional, not overused.
- Both additions have a higher level of construction than the code requires to allow for safe storm shelter areas in case of tornado or other severe weather. In the Gymnasium and locker room addition, the structure over the locker rooms and restrooms will be precast concrete planks to provide a designated shelter area that will protect occupants from severe weather. In the classroom addition, the north/south corridor along with the restrooms will also have the precast concrete overhead structure to allow for that same safe shelter area. There is one large window at the north end of that corridor and that window will have a storm shutter installed in it to make sure no broken glass could be blown through that corridor. This corridor is adjacent to the inside set of classrooms that face into the courtyard area, so these classrooms are also safer shelter areas. They do not have direct exposure to the outside perimeter of the building, so flying debris is much less likely to be able to cause damage.
- Door hardware will be specified to allow classrooms to be locked for safety and security during an emergency situation, if occupants are sheltering in place.
Why not wait to build until the windmill money arrives?
- The windmill projects are not completed. Project 1 (Walnut Ridge Project) is to be completed by fall of 2018. The District will receive a small amount of money from that project for the 2019-2020 school year. A full year’s tax money will not be received until the 2020-2021 school year.
- The Windmill Project 2 (Green River Wind Farm) is planned to be completed at the end of 2018. The tax revenue should arrive in the 2020-2021 school year.
- The combination of the Walnut Ridge and Green River wind projects are 260 Megawatts in Bureau Valley School District. The combined amount of tax revenue will be approximately $2,129,000 using an approximate $ 5.70 tax rate in year one, and declines 1 to 2% annually . It will also add 37 million of new equalized assessed valuation (EAV).
- The EAV is the value used in the calculation of the tax money received from our property owners. Our EAV was around 60 million in 1994 and we borrowed almost 10 million. Today our EAV has nearly doubled and we are borrowing 12 million. The Board feels this is a fiscally responsible plan.
- At a January 2017 Board meeting, STR Partners, an architect firm, presented information stating that for every three months the school district waits to begin a construction project, the school district loses the value of one classroom. This means construction costs continue to rise each year.
On MARCH 20, 2018, the Bureau Valley CUSD #340 is presenting to voters a bond proposal to fund school facility improvements. This bond proposal will maintain the bond and interest rate from the 2016 tax levy.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR STUDENTS?
- Improved Facilities and Improved Learning Environments
- Enhanced Opportunities for College, Career and Technical Education Class
- Strengthened Clubs, Programs and Extra-Curricular Activities
- Additional Exploratory Classes and Electives Provided
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR TAX PAYERS?
- For the last 20 years, the tax payers of Bureau Valley have been paying off the original bond issued to build Bureau Valley High School and a Working Cash Bond. The final payment for these bond issues will be in December 2018.
- The current bond proposal of $12 million, if approved, will create a new annual bond payment, which will maintain the tax rate from 2016. The bond will be a 12 year bond, saving the district over 2 million dollars in interest payments.
The previously proposed referendum was not approved in April 2017. Therefore, no new bonds were issued, and the property tax rate in 2018 will be reduced.
PRESS RELEASE FROM NOVEMBER 14, 2017:
For months, administrators, community members and staff members have been meeting to discuss strategic planning and building issues. These committees have presented the Board Members with valuble information.
The Bureau Valley District #340 Board of Education met in a special session Tuesday, November 14, 2017 in the district office in Manlius. Superintendent Eric Lawson introduced Steve Nelson from Larson Darby (via phone), Jeffrey Smith from Willett Hofmann, Chris Tyra from Midwest Construction Professionals and David Pistorius from First Midstate.
Steve Nelson began by presenting the plans for a proposed addition to Bureau Valley High School to house all district junior high students and 3rd – 5th grade students from the south portion of the district. The addition included a gym on the east side of the high school. This gym and accompanying rest rooms, locker rooms, offices and storage, would be tied into the existing electrical/mechanical systems at the high school. The other portion of the addition, including classrooms, offices, multi-purpose room, warming/serving kitchen and a separate entrance, will be on the west side of the high school.
Jeffrey Smith then spoke about Willett Hofmann’s role in this process. His firm would survey the entire property and plan the drainage, sidewalks, parking lots, and sewer/water connections. Two representatives from the Village of Manlius were present to discuss the Village’s water system.
Chris Tyra presented cost estimates. Conceptual costs total $11,156,702 including high school additions, HVAC upgrades at Bureau Valley North and Bureau Valley Wyanet, bleacher replacement at Bureau Valley North, and parking lot resurfacing at Bureau Valley North and Bureau Valley High School. The cost estimate includes hooking into village water/sewer and $330,000 in contingency costs. Click here to view the cost estimates.
David Pistorius read the ballot question that would appear on the March 20, 2018 ballot if approved. Included in the question are the various projects that the district has planned for the $12 million in bonds. One item, demolition of the Manlius Elementary building, would be done only if there is money left over after the other projects are complete. Mr. Pistorius explained that if the referendum passes, the district has 5 years to issue the bonds. Click here to read the Sample Ballot Question. He explained that the district’s tax rate has been at approximately $0.94 for many years, while we have been paying off the high school bonds. If we keep the tax rate the same, this $12 million bond issue could be paid in 12 years, as opposed to the 20 year payout for the high school bonds. Paying the bonds back quicker will save approximately $2 million. Click here to view the proposed bond payment schedule.
Each board member gave their thoughts on the bond issue. Several board members supported the $12 million amount because it was not at the top of our debt limit and it showed the board was being fiscally responsible by keeping the tax rate the same. Board members thanked the administration team and community committees for their hard work. Kent Siltman still voiced concerns regarding the placement of the addition at the high school and lack of additional library space. Several board members were excited about the educational opportunities that his plan could bring to our students.
Don King announced that the Board of Education would consider the adoption of a resolution providing for and requiring the submission of the proposition of issuing School Building Bonds to the voters of the District at the general primary election to be held on March 20, 2018. Recording Board Secretary, Karen Sierens, read the resolution aloud. Matt Wiggim moved to approve the resolution providing for and requiring the submission of the proposition of issuing School Building Bonds to the voters of Bureau Valley Community Unit School District Number 340, Bureau, Whiteside and Lee Counties, Illinois, at the general primary election to be held on the 20th day of March, 2018. Justin Yepsen gave the second. Roll was called and the motion passed 6 – 1, with Kent Siltman casting the only no vote.
Public meetings will be held in the near future.