Facilities Improvement Project
This New Year will surely bring new opportunities, strong teaching and learning, and student and staff recognition as does every New Year in the Drexel School District. We will continue to advance our mission of providing a learning community that supports all students in realizing their greatest potential.
This year will also bring challenges. We are all aware of the financial volatility that continues with the state’s economy and its subsequent impact on our district and community. This has been a concern of mine since taking over the position as your Superintendent in 2010. With the support of our Board of Education, staff, and our community members we have been able to overcome a financial crisis here at our school and get our school district into a financial position that is a positive one and one that is finally in a position to withstand some of the ups and downs of the lack of funding from our State. Not only have we built our fund balances into a positive position we have done so without cutting academic programs. We have made positive upgrades in the areas of technology, math programs, reading programs, parents as teachers, just to name a few of the areas of academics of which we have focused on.
Along with the academic progress we have been able to find the funding for capital projects such as an all-new security system with camera’s installed inside and outside of our school building, a new parking lot, and a new all-weather track that will be finished in the spring of 2014. We felt these projects would be of great benefit to our students here at Drexel and also a great benefit to our parents and community members. All of these academic and facility projects have been accomplished and at the same time our school district was Accredited with Distinction in 2012-13 as well as being voted as one of the top area schools by Ingram’s Magazine for the 2012-13 school year. I assure you that we will always keep the academic integrity of our school district as the number one priority of this district and will continue to fund programs that will help each and every one of our students have the opportunity to succeed. Although academics is and always will be our first priority here at Drexel we must also understand that facility up-keep plays a big part in the academic success of our students and staff here at Drexel or in any school for that matter.
It is for those reasons that the Drexel School District would like to embark on, pending voter approval on April 8th 2014, a facilities improvement project that will NOT increase the current debt service property tax levy. This no tax levy increase vote would be for the purpose of providing funds to complete energy efficiency improvements including heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system upgrades; to expand the gymnasium through the north wall for the installation of additional bleachers; to the extent funds are available to complete renovations of the cafeteria and kitchen; to construct, equip and furnish an addition for storage and office space; and to complete other remodeling, renovation and repair improvements to the existing facilities of the District; If this proposition is approved, the adjusted debt service levy of the School District is estimated to remain unchanged at $0.9672 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation of real and personal property. By reinvesting in our current bond structure the district is anticipating borrowing money in the amount of Two Million Dollars ($2,000,000) for the purpose of providing funds to complete these facility improvements. At this current time the district has hired the architectural firm of Incite Design Studio to develop drawings and to overs-see this project through its entirety if this No Tax Levy increase bond is approved by the voters.
The Board of Education and the District are exceptionally proud to be able to bring forward a capital building project that will have no impact on the current debt service property tax levy and will result in a Zero percent increase to the taxpayers. Any cost that may be accrued over the $2,000,000 dollars would be paid for by using current fund balance money that the district has in the budget at this time.
We started this discussion back in April of 2013 by virtue of establishing a Facility Needs Committee that consisted of staff, administration, parents, business owners and community members for the purpose of discussing future facility needs for our school district. After several meetings with great discussion and dialogue we presented to the Board of Education what we as a committee thought were the most pressing needs of our district, and also what we thought were some things that the public at large would like to see done here at our school. We also felt as though by addressing these needs at this time we would be in a position to ask the public taxpayers for their approval without increasing the current debt service tax the district community members were currently paying. Couple that with the fact that the current interest rates are still at a low number, it is the right time to look to the future and do these facility improvements before the current rates start to increase.
As superintendent of your school district I have spent a lot of time and thought on this matter and I truly believe that this is the right time for our community and our school district to move forward with this facility project. Our current Board of Education members unanimously agreed to support this project and to put it on the ballot for the April election. The committee did a fantastic job, in my opinion, of identifying the most pressing needs of our school building at this time and I am asking that you please support this project. The most important question we need to ask ourselves is will this benefit the learning environment for our kids, and will this project benefit our parents, grandparents, community members and any other member of the Drexel R-IV Family. My belief is the answer to this question is yes, and if this project is passed it will be a great thing for the entire Drexel R-IV Family.
The District will be hosting (2) Town Hall Meetings to discuss this possible upcoming project with the first one to be held in the North Gym on the 12th of February starting at 6:30. Please make time to attend the forum. The purposes of these meetings are to provide the community with the correct information about this facility project. In attendance will be Brian Foxworthy of Incite Design Studio and Dr. Roger Adamson of L.J Hart Company along with our current Administrative Team. Also, in the very near future there will be more information in the form of pamphlets and pictures provided to the public documenting and illustrating information about this facility project.
The Board of Education, Administration, and Staff of the Drexel R-IV School District are very excited of the possibilities this project could bring to our students, as well as our community members who support the Drexel R-IV School District. If I can answer any questions you may have, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I would be more than happy to discuss this project with you. Thank you for listening to me and reading this information. I hope to see all of you at our first Town Hall Meeting on the 12th of February.
Bill Johnston and Staff
Drexel Board of Education