“We have a good plan in place,” said Yukon Schools Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth.
That plan is dependent on the help of Yukon voters passing a nearly $45 million bond issue.
Simeroth said the proposed 5-year bond issue would help fund the construction of a new elementary school, as well as tons of essential maintenance items without raising taxes.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Only voters living in the Yukon School District are eligible to cast ballots.
“It’s huge,” Simeroth said of the bond issue.
“It determines our ability to continue to provide the facilities and technology and curriculum we need,” he said. “Everything we have been able to do over the last few years is based on being able to pass bond issues.”
This bond issue is for $44,680,000.
Simeroth said the issue pays for a variety of maintenance projects, as well as the construction of the school, the addition of playground equipment and transportation expenses.
“This one is particularly important because of the things we want to do with the district,” he said.
One key element of the bond issue is improvements in technology.
The project sets aside almost $6 million in bond money for technology upgrades, such as software licenses, new infrastructure and hardware. The money would be spent over a four-year period.
“We are pretty good now, but we want to be able to inundate our students with technology. You are really hitting with how students learn today,” Simeoth said. “They love technology because it is fast-paced and interactive. We’re doing a good job now, but we want to up the game as we move forward.”
Another aspect is using bond money to do the routine maintenance of the buildings, such as replacing heat and air units, carpeting, replacing roofs and furniture.
“Our school furniture is really old and is designed for students to sit in rows and direct their attention to the teachers,” Simeroth said. “That is not how they learn today.”
Some of the furniture, he said, is more than 15 years old and needs to be replaced.
Simeroth said that an aesthetically pleasing building provides a better environment for learning.
While many of these projects can be funded through the district’s building fund, there is not enough money to do all of them.
Simeroth said the fund generally has about $750,000. However, that money doesn’t last long.
He pointed out that four new classrooms were built over the summer at Surrey Hills Elementary School. The project cost about $750,000.
“You can pay for these things from the building fund, but there is no way to do all these things with just the building fund,” he said.
The major project is the construction of a new elementary school to house students in fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grades.
That project is expected to cost $28 million. Based on the way the bond package is planned, Simeroth said the district will have more than half the money already in hand before ground is broken on the project. That means lower interest payments and a quicker payoff.
“I don’t like to go into debt. It is not something that is wise to do. We are structuring how we are financing this school so we can have as little debt as possible when the students move in,” the superintendent said.
The goal is to have at least $12 million available before the ground-breaking.
Currently, all sixth-grade students attend the Sixth-Grade Academy that is located the middle school.
Simeroth said the hope is to create three schools to work with fourth- through sixth-grade students, giving them more time to prepare for the middle school level.
He also pointed out that they would more like neighborhood schools, helping to increase opportunities for parent participation.
Simeroth said he has faith that voters will support the proposal, based on previous bond issues.
“Our residents value education,” he said.
There are 8,762 students in the district as of Sept. 6, he said.
That is a substantial increase over last year’s ending enrollment.
“People move here for the school district. If they come here because of the school district, you would assume they would support the school district. I’ve had not indication of that not happening. We have so much support,” he said.
The district’s last bond issue was in 2008, which paid for the construction of Yukon High School.
That bond issue is expected to be paid off next year. The new bonds would begin at the same time, Simeroth said.
What’s in the bond?
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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