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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Fund limits school improvements

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Capital Projects Fund (CPF) is limiting the amount of physical improvements Clay Community Schools can make to school facilities to solve security issues, and the corporation needs the community's help creating a solution.

Communication about the proposed building renovation plan is where the community can take an active role in assisting the improvement of school security.

Many of the physical issues that are too expensive to be fixed through the CPF have been included in the current renovation project proposal.

According to a 2006 feasibility study conducted by Dr. Robert Boyd, professor of Education at Indiana State University, the corporation is currently taxing the maximum state-allowed amount for the CPF, at about $.33 per $100. Out of the $.33, around $.08 is dedicated to paying utilities and liability insurance, per state law.

"With the projections of funds available in the (CPF), there is very little that can be done to remodel buildings. After all, a leaking roof, plumbing, need for equipment or a boiler will take priority out of necessity. It does not matter how important the safety projects are, other operational needs will give us no discretionary funds to use for other projects," school board president Terry Barr said.

This is why the corporation would need a bond sale to pay for the renovations.

Barr said she was surprised at the opposition to the project proposal when the final cost was introduced to the public, because there was ample opportunity for the community to voice their concerns at planning meetings.

A renovation committee, which created the list of needs and gave them to the professionals who developed the proposal, held several public meetings.

"The corporation renovation committee meetings were covered by the media, and were reported in the paper, but no public attended there seemed to be a lack of knowledge about any projects until the headline came out about the total cost," Barr said.

"I think it is frustrating for everyone when the perception of some is it was a 'done deal' with no chance for information or input," she added.

Both Superintendent Dan Schroeder and Barr have indicated additional community forums will be planned in response to the public backlash against the renovation project, and are interested in hearing all opinions and ideas about the renovation project.

Schroeder indicated if a renovation plan was not passed, or was passed in phases, buildings would need to prioritize their needs, not only in security but building operations as well.

A committee would then need to prioritize each buildings needs at the corporation level, and select projects to be completed with the available funds.

Schroeder also said an option for the corporation, should a renovation project not materialize, would be to borrow money specifically for security improvements.

He said those decisions are made by the schools and the community together.

Funding security projects leads to another question; when is it enough?

How much money, how many precautions, how much training can the corporation expend before students are protected from inside and outside issues at a satisfactory level?

The common response from administrators is to respond to the issue as it evolves.

"It's always a work in progress," Schroeder said.

"We do what we can to prepare, but we can't prepare for every incident," he said.

"We can only do what is reasonable, affordable and possible," said Barr.

She said she would like to give the schools the ability to monitor who is in the building, and reduce smaller security concerns so staff can focus on preventing and reacting to larger concerns.

"If we are not able to take care of the physical needs of our buildings at this time, then the needs would be prioritized. That is not something I think anyone wants to assume responsibility for; I think all our schools are equally important," Barr said.

Barr dismissed the attitude, "if we are unable to take care of all of the buildings, then we will take care of none."

Although there are still many ideas of how security improvements will be made to the corporation facilities, those involved agree there is still work to be done.

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