The Clay Community Schools began exploring the feasibility of a construction and renovation project in the 2006-2007 school year.
The process began by forming local school committees made up of parents, patrons, and school officials who met to determine needs and additional requests on school-by-school basis, and by submitting the requests to central office for consideration.
Robert Boyd, a professor at Indiana and financial information, and this study was also presented to the school board. Schmidt and Associates, an architectural firm, was then retained and asked to perform a feasibility study by reviewing each school's list, to visit each school site, and to review school corporation maintenance department information.
The data was then and a report was presented to the school board. The central office and transportation facilities were also included in the study.
The demographic and financial feasibility study indicated that population in Clay County and the Clay Community Schools will remain relatively stable over the next seven years.
Total school enrollment is expected to increase by approximately 166 students, but the enrollment increase will not be spread evenly across grade levels.
The study by Boyd indicates that this is an excellent time to undergo a construction project because our ability to finance a project through our Debt Service Fund is quite positive. Substantial debt will be retired in 2008 and will provide a good opportunity to fund a building project. Financial authorities recommend the ratio of debt to assessed valuation not to exceed 10-15 percent, and our debt ratio in Clay Community Schools is 1.12 percent.
Also, if our ratio increases to 10-15 percent, we could take on additional debt of $86,994,224 to $130,491,336. Our proposed project is expected to cost us approximately $53,000,000.
Schmidt and Associates conducted a study of existing facilities and assessed the educational suitability with respect to site, building, mechanical, electrical, and technology systems. A rating system was used and a score of 100% indicated a perfect facility. Any building below a rating of 80 percent was earmarked for some level of renovation and remodeling. The costs associated with this part of the study are based on projected costs for this part of the project of all the facilities in need of improvement is projected to be approximately $38,000,000.
The study also explored equity among the elementary, middle, and high school buildings. Jackson township for required renovation and space needs and were analyzed to determine if the other buildings required renovation or needed additional space to achieve an equal opportunity for education across the school corporation. Half of the elementries will require additional academic will require additional academic space, and renovation of existing facilities, to meet classroom and academic needs. Half of the elementaries had the necessary space but will need to be renovated. North Clay Middle School was used as a model of equity that is representative of the secondary schools. The same process used with the elementaries was used with Northview High School and Clay City Junior/Senior High School to arrive at classroom and renovation needs.
The site needs identified in the study were combined with the equity needs identified in the study to arrive at a cost that will repair existing facilities and to arrive at a cost that will remodel of expand building sites, to ensure educational equity among buildings. The total cost of these two components of the project is estimated to a cost approximately $53,000,000.
A county-wide Community Advisory Committee composed of 28 patrons, parents, and school officials, met over a period of four months with architects, bond counsel representatives, financial underwriter representatives, and construction management representatives to determine the extend of our construction/renovation project.
The committee determined two primary components of the project and they are:
o Equity for all our students, and
o A tax rate that would not exceed the current tax rate.
After many hours of deliberation, it was determined by the committee that all seven elementaries would be renovated, temporary buildings would be removed, and that additional classroom and multi-purpose facility space would be added.
The same would be done for our high schools. Jackson Township Elementary and North Clay Middle School were recently renovated, so not as much work would need to be completed at these sites.
Also, a new or renovated central office and transportation complex would be part of the project. The total cost of the project for all 12 sites would be approximately $53,000,000 and the tax rates would not increase due to the cost of the building or renovation.
Over the course of the next few months, community meetings open to the public will be held to further explain the project. By law, a public 1028-Preliminary Determination Hearing meeting will be held to set the broad parameters of the project including tax rates and finances. If the project proceeds, we would need to complete specific construction plans, bid out the construction project, and sell bonds to finance the project. To date, the school board has not completely defined the nature of the project, but is committed to improving the building sites mentioned above.
We believe that this is an excellent time to consider a large construction project because financing is very favorable. Interest rates charged to schools for taking on new debt is relatively low, and this is a good time to borrow money.
If we decide to delay or postpone the building project, the inflationary pressures will cause the cost of building and renovation to increase tremendously. We believe that our students should have as nice of facilities as students who reside in other school corporations, because the education environment does affect students motivation and learning. Major renovation of our elementaries has not occurred since the late 1950s and now is the time to bring our facilities up to a par with other school corporations.