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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Opinions on project differ

Friday, March 28, 2008

Matt Reberger watches the ladder as Ronnie Todd scales up to the roof of North Clay Middle School Thursday afternoon for repairs. Weekend rains have been "testing" the roof, and building and grounds have been trying to get as much done during Spring Break as possible. Melinda Quasius Photo.
Since the petition remonstrance request against the Clay Community School Corporation was filed, opinions on the building project and the remonstrance have been many and varied.

Two figures involved in the project and the request shared their very different opinions and ideas with The Brazil Times.

Tom Reberger, Director of Buildings and Grounds for the corporation, was extremely disappointed that the remonstrance request was filed, and called it "delaying the inevitable."

Leo Southworth, a candidate for School Board and the filer of the request, feels the school board could have looked at more options before going through with a project.

"It's frustrating to me in this job, but it's also frustrating to me as a parent, a grandparent and a taxpayer that this money is going to pay interest instead of going to the kids," Reberger said about the bond money that would now most likely need to be used to pay capitalized interest.

Because of the timeline the school board set up for the project, if bonds are not sold by the end of 2008, tax money cannot be collected to pay capitalized interest in 2009.

This means, if the project does gain community support, an estimated $800,000-$1,000,000 will be taken out of the bonded money to pay the interest.

Reberger said the appropriation of that money for interest payments means the physical project will need to be scaled back.

When asked what could be accomplished with that amount of money, Reberger said it could be used to do all of the Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades the schools need, replace all existing computers in the elementary schools, upgrade library technology, replace dated kitchen equipment, cover most of the re-roofing costs or implement the planned security measures in all schools.

Southworth, on the other hand, believes finding the true opinion of the community is worth delay or withdrawal of the project.

"My goal is to find out the opinion of the community as a whole to get our schools fixed. It all belongs to the community, and the community needs to make the decision. Personally, I believe we need to get the best value for our money," Southworth said.

As an example of a better value, Southworth suggests combining Meridian Elementary and East Side Elementary in one new building, and using the current East Side property for the administrative building and bus garage.

"All buildings will need to be replaced, and if we don't replace them cyclically, future generations will have to replace them all at once," he said.

Southworth and Reberger also disagree about the cost of the project has been represented.

"I don't see the 'hard cost' and 'soft cost' split. All I see is total," Southworth said. "If this is business as usual, I don't believe in business as usual."

But Reberger compared the different type of costs associated with the project to a new house, saying you cannot include furniture as part of a home mortgage. Furniture is part of the soft costs of the project, along with interest and architect fees.

He also added the soft costs will be the first place where cuts in the project would be made.

Reberger was mostly disappointed about the delay in the project because he felt the corporation had followed every recommendation from the state and other corporations.

"It was a cook book project we followed the recipe," he said.

But Southworth feels the project plan could be more beneficial for the entire community.

"I don't feel the plan the school board has come up with is good for the community. They are spending too much for too little value," he said.

In the end, the Clay County voters will determine the fate of the project by choosing which opinion, and which petition, they will add their name to.

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Did anybody ask the corporation if it is considering combining the two elementary schools? This seems logical, and would save money. It seems there are too many elementary schools for no more students than Brazil has to serve.

-- Posted by Bruther on Sat, Mar 29, 2008, at 1:44 AM

I have to agree with Leo on this.

I have an opinion about the school Corp. Plans, but I work evenings, so my voice was not heard as well as several other citizens of this community. I have to live within my budget. Do I go out and purchase something I cant afford to pay for and end up paying a large amount of my future funds for Interest? NO! Why not save back funds for a year or two and build a new school? Without the interest payment, our dollar would be better spent. With out the interest payment, addition funds could be available to provide better security for our students. I am talking officers, not a door or camera that does little to stop someone who is a threat. I believe this would also help to improve the relationships between our local Law Enforcement and our children. I for one am glad to see the remonstrance filed. Come on people of our fine community, I challenge you all to think outside the norm here. The time for change is now, with the new property tax plans going into place. We need to make the change. Change is not always bad, different yes, but not bad! This remonstrance can be a good thing if we take the time to consider our priorities. I hope to see more on this topic as every voice and opinion should be heard!

-- Posted by OneOrdinaryMan on Sat, Mar 29, 2008, at 7:02 AM

Where would we build this "new" elementary?? Has anyone looked into class sizes. Do most of these children walk to school now? Would new and longer bus routes be needed? How many teachers and aides would lose their positions?? What about the princepals? Hmmm..

looks like thought needs to be put in on both sides.

-- Posted by northview_mom on Sun, Mar 30, 2008, at 7:32 AM

For those of you that ask has it been considered before about combining the two elementary schools, yes it has and if you ask the community about that it will be the same it was a couple of years ago when it did not go through because the community did NOT support the plan. It seems this subject has caught so much attention and other plans from years past did not and no one knows of all the plans that was attempted in prior years. The community pays no attention as a whole just what they want to hear or read about. I dont see how Leo can justify saying that he is trying to save the community money when if his petition does not go through all he has done is cost the corporation and oh yea the COMMUNITY another $1,000,000. I am not a college graduate but I do have common sense, and to me it seems as though he may be hendering EVERYONE. But it still seems to me by the way everyone talks and what I hear around town is that everyone thinks their taxes will go up, your taxes will NOT go up they will be the same as they are now. If you break it down you probably pay more for gas for your vehicle in 2 to 3 months then what you pay in an entire year for your property taxes, but I do not see LEO filling a petition to the Government for that. It is ineveitable that you will always pay taxes but the question you need to ask is who those taxes will be going to? One way or another you will always pay the same amount of taxes because I do not believe that the City, County or State will let your taxes go down and they will just find a tax levy that they can add to keep our tax rate the same as what it is now, and in 10 years what are we going to do when the corporation HAS to have something done and the tax rate goes up even more?

-- Posted by supporter on Sun, Mar 30, 2008, at 10:40 AM

Supporter.....I don't know how much property taxes you pay, but I can guarantee you that I pay more in one year's taxes than gas in my car for 2-3 months. At the current gas price, I could run my car for nearly three and a half years! I do believe there are two or more sides to every story. I am aware of plans in past years to close East Side or Meridian as a cost saving measure. I'm also aware of how community support against such proposals was generated. Teachers were told to rally their troops or their school would be closed. One teacher even got a phone call from a school board member telling her she needed to get busy or the board was going to vote to close her building. So, the teachers contacted key parents to circulate petitions and appear at the board meetings and were told to write and call board members immediately. That plan works every time. There is fear of the unknown, and the thought of leaving one's comfort zone is a great one. What the parents and teachers failed to understand is that the closing of one school doesn't mean the end to student education or teaching jobs. If you have "X" number of students to educate, then a facility would have to be built to house "X" number of students. Class size would not necessarily go up. In some cases, it might even go down. For instance, the fifth grade at Meridian Elementary began the year with 35 students all in one classroom. So, combining elementaries would even out that class with the students from another elementary. Teachers might be moved grade levels and be forced to teach outside their comfort zone, however. I'm not sure that is a bad thing! Bus routes would not necessarily be lengthened. In fact, they might be more streamlined. Instructional assistants would still be needed. Most likely, one principal might be returned to the classroom, or the Corporation could create a new position for the person, as they are quite well known to do. These are all just posibilities worthy of exploring. I doubt any of our school boards has ever been given the opportunity to take a deep look into redistricting and/or closing an elementary building or two because of all the hoopla that comes with the idea. Thank heavens we live in a free country where people can think outside the box and throw ideas out for others to consider, but first we must remove the "we've always done it this way" blinders.

-- Posted by Bigpappy on Sun, Mar 30, 2008, at 1:47 PM

Seems to me we are following the "what we have always done" pattern by filing a remonstrance. Northview went through one and it cost the school a pool and a gym.

This county puts more worry into a slight increase in taxes than they do safer schools for our children. How any person can object to making our schools safer is beyond my thought. We don't live in the "Leave it to Beaver" world I grew up in. We live in a world where children are targeted and are no longer safe in their schools. Things must be done to bring Clay County up to date.

And if I am reading correctly, things will be lost in this project too due to the petition process.

Yes freedom of speech is a GREAT thing. My children loosing out is not!

-- Posted by madmom61 on Mon, Mar 31, 2008, at 2:18 PM

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