USD 309 Board of Education rules on $10.5 million bond

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After a failed $30 million bond in 2019, Nickerson/South Hutchinson School District 309 is taking a new approach and offering a $10.5 million bond.

Nickerson-South Hutchinson USD 309 Board of Education held a special meeting Monday night where Superintendent Curtis Nightingale shared estimates for various renovations and new construction that would cost $10.5 million.

The council agreed to the price and a 10-year plan to implement the bond, costing $100,000 homeowner taxpayers $119.92 a year to fund the projects.

“It remains under $10 per month and under $124 per year,” said board chairman Dan Schweizer.

The bond would focus on renovating buildings in the district, with some additions like security at Nickerson High School and a new bus drop-off at Reno Valley Middle School.

Some of the items proposed in the bond include the Nickerson High School Auditorium Renovation, Reno Valley Middle School Restroom Update, Nickerson Elementary School ADA Compliant Restroom Update, and Completion of a complete renovation of the district bus barn.

Nickerson 309’s last link failed. The $30 million prize was to be spread over 25 years. Over 80% of taxpayers voted against the 2019 bond.

After School Link fails in 2019, board takes new approach

Schweizer said since the last bond failed in 2019 due to high price, the board needed to focus on clarity and necessity this year.

Since most of the funds would go towards renovations and repairs, council member Mike Apfel wanted to determine which repairs would benefit school buildings the most.

One of Apfel’s main concerns was with roofs on school buildings, citing reports of past leaks and damage, but the district is still awaiting assessments from a roofing company to see the extent of the damage.

In the agreed price of the bond, none of the roofs were factored into the cost of the bond, which concerned Apfel.

“I don’t want to cut that too much to accommodate the rooftops to bring it down to $10 million. We’ll have to revisit and look at $12 million if those rooftops go beyond what we had planned,” Apfel said. .

Luke Herren and Jay Mitzner said they would like to keep the amount fluid as new developments arise and remain transparent with the public, anticipating the numbers could change.

Herren said his goal on Monday night was to solidify the bail amount and timing, but “then there will be a lot of concessions.”

Nightingale agreed that looking further into where the district can save money on bail could add to future projects.

Schweizer encouraged the board that it still had to be intentional even to save money.

“Everything we do in this link is going to be scrutinized,” Schweizer said. “So if we say we’re going to do it by cracky, we’re going to do it.”

What happened at Monday’s school board meeting?

The special meeting included all seven board members, Jane Gamber, Brent Engelland, Schweizer, Herren, Apfel, Gordon Roth and Mitzner.

Kristi Rohling, the chief financial officer, also answered any questions the board might have, while Nightingale provided figures for proposed inclusions on the bond.

The meeting lasted an hour and a half and, at the end, the board of directors unanimously accepted the obligation of 10.5 million dollars over 10 years, understanding that new developments could modify the price and the time limit.

“I’m really encouraged by the quality of it all just since our last meeting, and I agree with everything I think we’re looking at with the right amount of money and the right time,” Gamber said.

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