On Tuesday, October 8, every resident of the Jones Public School district will be asked to vote on a $20,395,000 bond issue. There have been a couple of very important questions that continue to be asked, so let’s first address those before we learn more about the issue itself.
This is NOT a city election. Your eligibility to vote in a city election has nothing to do with this election. If your children attend, attended, or could have attended Jones Public Schools, you CAN vote in this election. You will vote at your regular polling place, which is occasionally outside city limits. You can find your polling place by visiting the state election board website, selecting the “voter info” tab, then selecting “online voter tool”, then “find your polling place”.
The next issue that has caused a little confusion is the NO TAX INCREASE message. The best way to continue to move our community forward and meet the needs of each generation is to continue to utilize bond issues. This bond issue will continue the same taxing structure that we have used to build the high school. That is why there is NO TAX INCREASE. If this bond issue is approved, you will not see an increase in any tax associated with Jones Public Schools.
There have been a few articles in The Jones Journal about this bond issue, and they have focused on the primary project, the Early Childhood Center. The ECC accounts for 83.4% of all project costs. This is our main purpose for the issue, and I hope you will read the articles if you haven’t already. It’s an exciting project for our community.
There are also two other projects. We will replace all the HVAC units at the elementary school and middle school as needed. This project will account for 4.3% of all project costs. Some of our HVAC units are 25 years old, and are very expensive to maintain. New units will not only be more reliable, but also free up daily operational costs that can be returned to the classroom.
The final project is a renovation of the Tim Wallace Memorial Football Stadium that will account for 12.3% of all project costs. The priorities within this project will address significant safety issues. The first priority is the replacement of the lights. Our current light poles are very old wooden poles, and the electric lines that provide power are strung overhead. The second priority is the replacement of the bleachers. Bleachers will be replaced on both the home and visitor sides, and the home side will increase seating capacity by over 50%. It will also provide (much) better access for hadicapped needs. The current bleachers are at least 45 years old. They were not built to current (necessary) safety standards. We have had multiple accidents and injuries in the recent years, and these bleachers will continue to degrade rapidly. If we are not able to replace the lights and bleachers through this bond issue, I’m concerned we will have to find the money in our yearly operating budget.
After funding the projects listed above, we will have monies available to continue the renovation. Our preference will be to replace the current grass turf with synthetic turf. If after the bidding process, we do not have the funds for that, we will still need to do significant work on the turf. Erosion has caused the field to drain north and into the current fieldhouse. This has caused significant damage to the offices and locker rooms, and we are beginning to experience seepage from under the basketball court. We will need to address the drainage problems with an underground system. The estimated cost of a synthetic turf field is $550,000 to $750,000 (there are many different grades). The cost for addressing the drainage issue only is $200,000 to $250,000.
The available funding will be determined by interest rates and bid proposals.
We were very lucky during the high school project that interest rates were low, resulting in the bids being much lower than projected. That resulted in funding available to do additional projects that we hadn’t anticipated. We added security cameras and new classroom technology at the elementary and middle schools. If we find ourselves in a similar situation, we have identified several projects throughout the district that we are ready for.
If you would like more information, you can stop by our booth at Old Timers’ Day on Saturday, October 5th, or you can call (399-9215) or email Dr. Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, I would love to speak at any group event.