Outdoor facilities vote set for April 2Published 11:07am Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Following the narrowly defeated outdoor facilities vote last November, Fergus Falls School District residents will have an opportunity to vote on a revised, less costly plan on April 2.
“We had a community meeting full of people, and talked to a lot of people in the community,” said Superintendent Jerry Ness. “What we heard were comments on the complexity of the project, that the project was too large, and that we need to consider Otter values, tradition and history.”
The revised referendum is $700,000 less than the last proposal. It does not include improvements at Cleveland or Roosevelt schools — those changes will be included into the school district’s budget and completed as funds are available. Plan changes at the high school include relocating a maintenance shed to adjoin a new concession and restroom building rather than building a separate building, and reconfiguring tennis courts.
Ness added the plan will still add 100 parking spaces on the same level as the football bleachers to make them handicap accessible, and that plan costs would have been the same whether the football field was improved in place or moved.
The overall emphasis of the plan is student wellness and safety — avoiding driving off campus for activities, and reducing injury such as shin splints and broken bones by proper drainage of fields.
“I like that there are long and flexible spaces, and a design that is smoother for maintenance staff,” said school board director Matt Lemke. “The plan meets the needs we’ve identified.”
Regarding costs, the lower amount of bond means the bond issuance cost is less, and there are additional benefits to the taxpayer.
With the current bond issue, homeowners in the district are paying $24.16 per year on average on a $100,000 home. With that bond issue expiring, the proposed new bond issue, if it passes, would actually reduce the amount district homeowners pay to $17.69.
“I wanted to emphasize the point that Superintendent Ness made that this is a reduction in tax you are currently paying,” said school board director Melanie Cole. “A community member said to me ‘this is our backyard, this is where entertain visitors and this is where our children play.’”
Included in the motion was the wording for the ballot:
Shall the school board of Independent School District No. 544 (Fergus Falls Public Schools) be authorized to issue its general obligation school building bonds in an amount not to exceed $5,475,000 to provide funds for the acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including the construction and equipping of additions, improvements, site improvements and related facilities to expand and improve the school district’s existing outdoor athletic sites and facilities?
The motion passed unanimously. Information will be published by the school board before the April 2 vote.