FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What other options did the Board pursue on the central office building? Such as renovation, building across the street (old motorcycle shop), and/or building a new facility on site.
Replacing the Central Office was important to the Board of Education for these reasons: 1) There was no drinkable water in the old building - the city told us we were at the end of the line and the water came out black, reddish clay-colored and stank like rotten eggs - one of our board members also approached the city on this issue and was given no remedy. 2) There was no insulation in the old building; it was a lightly manufactured building from 1951. 3) The toilets regularly stank like rotten eggs and sewage, and it permeated the entire building periodically. 4) The 1951 building was not well-sealed and was frequently infested with pests - we called pest control, it didn't help much. The building itself would have to be taken down to studs, and we'd end up almost another building. As the District studied the issue, we asked PWA - a Columbia Missouri Architectural firm with engineers on staff to provide estimates for rebuilding the central office. A complete rebuild would be expensive, and due to the age and light original construction, it was not economical. The estimates were not acceptable. Due to prevailing wage law and construction costs, a relatively simple replacement building would cost approximately $600,000 to $800,000 to match other school buildings in the District (but not wholly brick), and we would still have water issues. Further, as we studied our district property lines, we realized we were landlocked and had no space to grow when the time came. We have two relatively large classes, our 2019-20 freshman class, and the first graders. That's an indicator of growth. If we moved the central office, we would gain nearly 4 acres for a future PRE-K and Elementary school on the hill. This expansion in the long-range future could be done in stages when needed, and it might start with a new Pre-K building then expand from there. The thought was this: If we lock up this land with a new central office, we won't have the space to expand instructional space in the future. It might require purchasing new land, which is very expensive. A lot of electrical, plumbing, and dirt work would have to be done and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. We already own enough land to fulfill a lot of our future classroom needs on the hill. During our study, two buildings became available locally. When real estate becomes available, the time to purchase is limited, and we had both buildings evaluated by our architect and engineers. The old motorcycle shop across the street was in inferior shape internally. In order to bring the building up to code would cost $200,000 to $300,000 - the core of the building was from 1945, it was on several different levels, and the back of the building had some serious roofing structural issues and a dirt floor. The selling price at the time was $395,000, and this was without the improvements needed. We then looked at the old Bixler building. The price was $295,000, and we didn't want to lose the opportunity; the building needed very little done to bring it up to speed. Moreover, Mr. Bixler completed a new roof just before we moved in as part of the deal and had the property resurveyed at his cost. Additionally, our insurance recently appraised this building at $831,000. We are also paying over five years on a 2% interest loan (historically low). Mr. Brant next door is paying rent each month for the use of the insurance office building, which covers our interest costs (the District owns the insurance office as well). When Mr. Brant has finished using the building, the District will reassess how the entire building will be used. The building's board room is a significant improvement and is now available for community use. We've invited the City of Tipton and the Chamber of Commerce to use our central office whenever they need the space. We've also hosted area-wide training with the Missouri School Board Association for school safety, training for teachers, and a meeting with conference schools and our DESE area supervisor. It's not just a central office; we now have a community meeting space and training space - it's a new community asset. Finally, we can host engineers and construction professionals when they come to our District and need a workspace. Often, construction managers charge a district to rent a trailer while they are on site. One of our preliminary bids (which we did not accept) sought to charge the District for a trailer during construction at a rate of $700 per month.
2. Why did the District spend money on the playground and why didn't we vote on it?
The other project we're asked about is the elementary playground. The Board also fixed our kids' playground, which was not ADA compliant and didn't meet current safety requirements. You might also remember the elementary kids couldn't use this space regularly because it was flooded much of the school year. Also, Nurse Molly Thye logged over 100 injuries we were very concerned about because some were serious. The playground was also a lease-purchase, and it will be paid off in January 2021. The cost was approximately $300,000. The central office and the playground were possible with our current budget, and the District chose to complete them - we're making payments. Some people believe we had enough money to pay for a multi-million dollar project like HVAC - we didn't. Districts ask for bonds (loans) to tackle projects like the one we're proposing. For smaller projects, sometimes a district seeks a small, short-term loan at a low-interest rate; this is a lease-purchase. We believe it's a good decision to NOT ask for money when we can handle things within our budget over time.
3. Could this bond money be used to have an onsite resource officer?
Bond money cannot be used to pay salaries. However, the community could vote in a tax increase, and we could pay for a resource officer that way. Hiring a new person with bond money is not a capital project (facilities). A resource officer would be an on-going, yearly cost. If it is a community priority, we could raise taxes (approximately 10 cents, this would require a ballot issue) and commit to using the new money just for that purpose.
4. What was the intention of the purchase of the Morlock property?
Many districts do this, and it is very common: The Morlock property was purchased around spring 2017 (this was before the service of the current Superintendent and Board members) because it was adjacent to our property, and we are landlocked. By purchasing the property that borders our property, we plan for the future. The more landlocked we are, the fewer options we have on our current property "footprint". The purchase helps when someday we may need to start building an elementary school or another facility. When our existing K-12 building fills up, where do we grow? Where do we build? Growth happens in excellent school districts, and if you don't plan to grow, you're planning to fail, and you're forced to spend much more money acquiring and developing new land. If you take advantage by buying good property adjacent to the District, it can save taxpayers money in the long term.
5. In looking at the information, I see three plans, A, B, and C submitted by GRP-Wegman. Do we start with plan A and then if money allows us to move forward with plan B, like phasing?
The Board will ensure the priority issues are handled first - those are on the ballot: 1)HVAC 2) Electrical 3) Safety and security. We are bound to do that because it is on the ballot that way, we cannot ethically or legally change that. The extra options you see in B or C can be accomplished as well. Right now, GRP-Wegman can accomplish all the projects listed in "C" for a price below 4 million. We will also have some security hardware to install that isn't on the estimate with another company. The Board wants to do all the projects in options C and fix the bathrooms in the gym foyer. Right now, it appears we won't need to phase anything. The only reason you might phase slowly is that you don't have enough money. The good news is this: We will have one final list and one final price. If GRP-Wegman says their entire list will cost 3.7. million then that's it, no changes and we have a contract with them to complete ALL the jobs for that price - they cannot change the price.
6. Do you have the figures on how much school funding is cut for the 20/21 school year yet?
The Superintendent has had numerous online webinars and three all-state superintendent meetings with the governor and the commissioner of education recently. The District has lost approximately $100,000 so far in funding from the state. However, most people are optimistic that the economy reopening will slow down cuts to schools. All schools are sharing the burden (some districts were protected in the past). However, we will also be able to claim about $100,000 so far in CARES Act money to fill in this shortfall. One important piece to remember is that bond money is only used for facility improvements. When we receive the bond money it helps us meet our facility needs only and we don't have to try and do it from our regular yearly income from property taxes, and state and federal money - this is money we pay teachers and do smaller projects or make long term payments (like the playground and central office). We don't have several million dollars sitting around to accomplish significant projects like our HVAC. When you vote for the bond, you're voting for the District to take out a long term loan at a low-interest rate to improve the school (for all the reasons listed on this website).
7. I don't have kids in school anymore, why should I vote for the bond issue?
No one has to support their local school district. However, our elected Board of education members represent the District and the community. In our bond issue, the District believes improvements help our community thrive and grow in good ways. Additionally, property values are always closely tied to the quality of local schools. Right now, the hub of our community is our school district. People will come to live, work, build, and grow businesses if they see a thriving community, and a robust and well-maintained school district. Check on any major realtor's website; you'll almost always find the local school districts on the page where the home is advertised for sale. Some people have criticized our new signs in the District. The point of drawing attention to our school is simple: People have choices, we want them to live here, and we want to serve their family. A thriving school district, is a district that serves the community and draws in kids and families. When people invest in Tipton, the community benefits.
8. I heard the relatives of the Superintendent are being hired and will benefit from this bond issue - is that true?
I heard he's related to the security company representative that will do some work for the District.
No, none of the Superintendent's close friends or relatives are being hired to complete work in our District. If anyone doubts this fact, all records are public and the District will produce proof upon request. In fact, several local businesses will be asked to work on the listed projects put together by GRP-Wegman.
9. What was the tax percentage that is/was set to expire (sunset)? Is it the entire $1.08 or just a part of that amount?
There is no tax percentage set to sunset at this time. Our current bonds (loans we currently have) will not be paid off until 2030. This current bond issue will extend our payments until 2040. One of the reasons we're moving forward is to take advantage of very favorable interest rates - historically low rates.
The tax is approved by the voters to pay principal and interest only on the bonds/loan. When the school has no bonds outstanding the tax for debt service would drop off. The current structure of our bonds would be paid off in 2030.
10. Does the issue require 4/7 vote to pass?
11. The Ballot language mentioned $4 million dollars. Would the tax sunset after that amount is collected or would it go on forever?
No, we would pay the same tax rate from now until 2040. We are asking the voters to pay the same tax as they currently pay for another 10 years or until this new issue is paid off in 2040. So we are basically asking for a 10-year extension of the tax unless the bonds could be paid off early then it would sunset at that time. Districts often refinance when it is advantageous to do so and save money.
12. If the tax is just until 4 million is raised, how long is that expected to take?
Bonds are loans to the District and the District raises the money as soon as the bonds are sold. This is very similar to getting a loan from a bank to buy a home. The bond money can only be used on capital projects. Bonds will be bid by our municipal advisor and we can expect historically low rates, in the neighborhood of 2%. Tax money designated to pay for the bonds is "captured" via an electronic deposit into a separate account to pay bonds (like an escrow account for your home if you have a mortgage) - this is happening now in any school district that has bonds.
13. Can the bond issue be put on the August ballot or is it too late?
The Board passed a resolution to place the issue back on the Aug. 4 ballot. Due to the delay of the April election to June 2 due to COVID-19, we had already missed the typical cutoff to put this on the August election. The statute allows for us to file a request with the counties and the circuit court to put this on the August ballot if the request is after the normal deadline. We have approval from all three counties and our paperwork was completed.
14. Why do we need to borrow money?
Our District does not have millions of dollars in reserve for large capital improvement projects. Few districts do have large piles of cash sitting around to accomplish major projects. Our tax rate is low and we ask permission from voters to maintain our current level of taxation and then seek bonds to pay for large projects like the one we are proposing. Our current budget allocates approximately 70% of our funds each year for salaries and benefits to school personnel.
The HVAC alone will require approximately half of our bond money. However, there will be a return on investment. We can expect significantly lower energy costs. In addition, we're able to replace all lights to LED to save money and we're looking at a solar option.
15. Could we run out of money before all the projects are completed?
No. We are planning to enter into a contract with a Guaranteed Energy Savings Contractor - GRP-WEGMAN - they will quote one price for all the projects (except some technology used for safety and security). We will LOCK IN A PRICE - with NO CHANGE ORDERS. So what they commit to complete, they must complete for the price we've negotiated.
16. The voters already turned this issue down in June, why are we running it again?
We are running this issue again because the District believes people needed more information - at least that's what was communicated to us. If you're reading this website, then that's good - this website is a response to the community for more transparency and more information. We want you to have all the information you need to understand the District's needs. If you need more information, please feel free to reach out to the Board of Education and/or the Superintendent, Dr. Terry Robinson.
17. I heard our Superintendent is leaving after "he" passes the bond issue, since it seems all superintendents have to meet this prerequisite before they can move up to a bigger school.
Ok, this is Dr. Robinson and I'm writing this answer: I have no intention to go to another school district or update my resume and seek another position. I am 50 years old and this is my 24th year working with kids. I don't want to leave Tipton and my wife and I love being in Tipton serving our community - school is not really a job, it's kind of a lifestyle. We bought a great home here and like everyone else, we pay taxes here. I currently have a three year contract with the District, and I love working with the Board of Education to help make our community THE BEST place to raise and educate kids. As long as the Board of Education wants me here, I'm staying.
18. How does a no tax increase bond issue work?
Bonds are loans to the District at generally low-interest rates. We will have a bidding process to get the best market interest rate. Right now, interest rates are historically low. We can expect a rate of 2-3%. The bonds are then sold to investors and the money is made available to the District. Our community agrees to pay off the bonds over a period of 20 years. Bonds are used by districts if the general funds of the District are insufficient to cover major projects.