The Thayer Central Board of Education voted to lower the 14-cent tax on the Special Building fund levy to 3 cents at its Monday evening meeting.
The levy dropped from $0.13998 (2019-2020) to 0.030000 for the 2020-2021 school year. That translates to $1,162.052 in 2019-2020 to $248,692 for 2020-2021 for an overall decrease of $913,360.
The general fund levy is 0.6740000 for 2020-2021 from last year’s 0.664611. The increase is $70,674. The net result to the overall levy is a reduction of a little over 10 cents or 10.00609.
State aid is expected to be $51,366 this year from last year’s $49,691.
The district has made adjustments to save money — the athletic director responsibilities were divvied among school personnel and the speech language pathologist position was changed from outsourcing to in-house for a savings of $26,000.
On a need versus expense basis, the district closed the alternative school for a significant savings.
“The board has looked hard to be efficient,” Superintendent Randy Page said.
And while it has strived for savings, the board has kept facility improvements on its list.
In 2018, the board met with the public to address priorities, such as connecting the buildings from a security standpoint, and add space for special education students and staff.
“It changes from year to year. If you have two students on the far ends of the autism spectrum, you have a need for different services,” Page said. “You want the facilities for them centrally located.”
In addition, there were suggestions to protect seventh through 12th grade students with a tornado shelter, weight and wrestling room space and other requests for more gymnasium, band and vocal music spaces.
The board scored the suggestions, and connecting the buildings was the highest priority for the public. Special education came in second and new locker rooms and the tornado shelter was third. Fourth was the new weight or wrestling room. After was a connection to the shop building.
All together, the board scored 12 requests with a ceramics area scoring the lowest.
“I think it would be unfair to say the board hasn’t thought facilities were an issue. It’s an important piece of the board’s mission,” Page said. Instead of side-stepping what the public wants in their educational facility, the board would rather have a vote of the public.
Approved at the meeting was a resolution to select a design-build contract delivery system that gives school administration to seek a performance criteria developer for a design-build project.
The district will advertise requests for proposals.
The agenda stated, “The construction would be contingent on either; a successful Bond Election or a decision by the Board of Education to expend Special Building Fund assets on new construction.”
The public would be involved in the steps to agree to improvements or disagree. A project to upgrade the Thayer Central Community Schools facility would cost more than $4 million that is currently the approximate amount in the special building fund.
“As an administrator, it is not a priority if the bond fails or passes. My concern is that as many people vote as possible and they are properly informed as much as possible,” Page said.
A very rough design of what the improvements would look like is in progress.