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What's next for R-P facilities?

Fri, Jun 24th, 2011
Posted in Education

The Rushford-Peterson school board officially accepted a report from the Joint Facilities Task Force, a group comprised of volunteer district members. The task force has been diligently plugging away at gathering information regarding the elementary/high school facility in Rushford and the middle school in Peterson.

The report included at least three major components. First, cost savings consideration of operational and maintenance costs, deferred maintenance cost avoidance at both buildings, savings on staff time and travel costs, and savings on student transportation and bussing. Secondly, marketplace cost opportunities, which highlighted the facts of low construction costs, while competition for construction bids is high and bond financing at an all time low. Also, included in the report was the impact and feasibility of phased construction, an option compared to the construction of a single facility at one time. This last issue led the task force to believe that a phased construction process would not be prudent for the district. The consensus, after reviewing the financial aspects, was that the difference in a phased construction compared to a one-facility, non-phased construction was really not an issue, having looked at the dual costs of operation, maintenance, and other costs incurred. For certain, no one on the task force sees putting $8-12 million, which would receive no state funding, into aging facilities as a wise decision.

Tom Driscoll, a member of the task force, recently acknowledged, however, that one of the challenges the committee faced was taking into consideration the impact on the community. Superintendent Chuck Ehler presented the board with proposed tax impact statements provided by Ehler & Associates, Inc., as requested by the task force. The figures include tax impact amounts for residential, commercial, agricultural, and agricultural non-homestead market values and bond issue sizes ranging from $8 to $29 million. The amount the district would have to finance is entirely based upon funding from the state.

Public Forums, surveys, and information gathering by the district have turned up very little input from the community other than support of a new facility.

School board member Greg Smith recently noted the importance of Peterson and Rushford Village in this effort as they include a large land base. "It will not happen without all communities and areas coming together."

After approving the report, the board was urged by Ehler not to sit still on the matter. "This process has taken four months. The ball was in the Facilities Task Force's court. Now, it's in yours. They clearly made it known to you that there is no plan 'B'." The board intends to put together an action plan and statement prior to the next meeting.

In other news, the board has approved the 2011-2012 school budget. It was noted that the district has a healthy general fund balance.

Rebecca Munson will serve as a student body representative to the board, beginning in July. She was chosen by a sub-committee headed by high school principal Shane McBroom.

The next regularly scheduled meeting is Monday, July 18th, at 6:00 pm in the high school biology room. The public is encouraged to attend.

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