Yukon voters to decide school bond issue

Yukon voters will be asked in September to approve a $44 million bond issue that will help pay for a new intermediate school and a variety of basic projects throughout the district.

The Yukon School Board approved a resolution asking for the Sept. 12 election during its meeting Monday.

A second $1 million bond issue also will be on the ballot that would be used to purchase transportation within the district.

Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth said he is optimistic that voters will look at the list of projects and recognize the district’s needs. In addition, he pointed out, that the bond issue would not increase property taxes for district patrons.

Money from the first bond issue would be used to build a third intermediate school.

Currently, the districts sixth-graders are housed in the sixth-grade academy at the middle school. The goal is to create three intermediate schools that would house fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students in three intermediate schools – Lakeview, Independence and the new facility.

Simeroth said that project was a top priority that came out of community meetings held late last year and earlier this year.

“It was a top priority to have another lower level school to reduce crowding at the middle school and those two schools in particular,” he said.

The school, itself, would take the majority of the bond money, more than $28 million. However, because construction would not begin until 2019, the district would use a series of bond sales to set aside money.

Simeroth said that would allow the district to have almost half of the money in place before ground is broken, and would require less financing. That, he said would provide significant savings for the district.

It is unclear what would happen with the current sixth-grade academy, although Simeroth said there are plenty of options.

“We may use it as a way to serve students who now are underserved in our alternative education services, such as at YALE (Yukon Alternate Learning Experience),” he said.

The district currently uses a separate building for that program, as well as its virtual school, but Simeroth said the programs are expanding.

“Our clientele grows, our community grows and those students need a different setting for success. We need more space, so that is a possibility,” Simeroth said.

However, he also pointed out that the district, itself, is growing about 2 percent each year. As a result, the facility may be needed to house additional seventh- and eighth-grade programs.

“As fast as we are growing, the building won’t be empty very long,” he said.

While the new school is the top priority, the bond issue will cover a lot of basics. Things like replacing air conditioning systems, repairing roofs, replacing football fields and track surfaces. These are things that normally come out of the district’s general fund budget.

“We spend almost $700,000 per year for software licensing. A few years ago, the law was changed to allow bond money to be use for that,” Simeroth said.

That was good news for the district and its teachers.

“That is a step raise for our teachers. That is what it costs, $700,000 annually,” he said. “That has been a blessing for the last couple of years.”

The bond issue calls for about $6 million to be used for maintenance, furniture and carpet. About $6 million is earmarked for heat and air conditioning systems.

Curriculum, library materials also are on each year of a four-year plan.

Athletics and fine arts programs also make the list.

Simeroth said both the middle school and high school football fields are in need of new turf and track surfaces. They each would be funded during the latter stages of the bond issue.

There is almost $600,000 for the fine arts program, including $300,000 to upgrade the fine arts center. The money also would be used to be new band instruments, uniforms and even a new trailer to transport equipment for the band program.

Simeroth said the district’s last bond issue was in 2008, which allowed for the construction of the high school.

He is optimistic that district patrons will continue to support the district’s needs.

“We had a number of community meetings, and residents were very thankful for the way we are doing this. … We do a good job in this district of managing our budget,” he said.

Last year, despite the budget issues at the state level, the district was able to increase its salary scale as well as give step raises.

Simeroth said he anticipates providing step raises again next year.

Being able to pay for some of the basic needs of the district through a bond issue helps the budget.

“We have to pay for roofs and air conditioners, and it has to be paid for somehow. If we don’t pay for it out of bond money, then it comes out of general fund money we get from the state and then we can’t pay for teacher raises and some of the other things we get,” he said.

What’s in the bond?

Series I

  • Construct, furnish, equip and/or acquire a new elementary school – $3,835,000
  • New technology upgrades and equipment districtwide – $1,920,000
  • Roofing, flooring, furniture, playground equipment, library books and resources and classroom equipment – $960,000
  • New track at Yukon Middle School – $430,000
  • New school-owned vehicles – $75,000
  • Install upgrades and equipment for the fine arts department – $25,000

Series II

  • Funding for new elementary school – $8,460,000
  • New technology upgrades and equipment districtwide – $1,377,000
  • Roofing, flooring, furniture, playground equipment, library books and resources and classroom equipment – $2,193,000
  • New turf at Yukon Middle School football field – $225,000
  • Install upgrades and equipment for the fine arts department – $150,000

Series III

  • Construct, furnish, equip and/or acquire a new elementary school – $8,775,000
  • New technology upgrades and equipment districtwide – $1,675,000
  • Roofing, flooring, furniture, playground equipment, library books and resources and classroom equipment – $1,470,000
  • Improvements to the Fine Arts Center – $300,000
  • Improvements for the fine arts department – $230,000

Series IV

  • Construct, furnish, equip and/or acquire a new elementary school – $7,455,000
  • New technology upgrades and equipment districtwide – $1,260,000
  • Roofing, flooring, furniture, playground equipment, library books and resources and classroom equipment – $1,885,000
  • New track and turf at Yukon High School – $780,000
  • Install upgrades and equipment for the fine arts department – $150,000

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