Superintendent Dr. Steve Weinhold told administrators, teachers and parents packed into the Union High School board room Thursday that Proposition Wildcats would alleviate overcrowding in the district.
He added that the funds from the no tax increase bond also would prepare the district for the future.
Weinhold spoke to district patrons during an informational forum aimed at answering questions, as well as making sure community members understood what a bond is and that the proposition will not raise taxes.
The district is seeking a $27.75-million no-tax-increase bond during the April election. The bond, which has been in development for the past year, is aimed at funding the building of a new elementary school on the east side of Union and renovation projects throughout the district.
General obligation bonds are a way for school districts to legally borrow money after receiving approval from a four-sevenths majority of voters.
A bond is a loan that is sold in increments of $5,000, which enable the district to have cheaper borrowing costs than going to the bank for the entire amount.
To repay the bond, the district will have a designated debt service fund levy, which can not be used for any operating expense other than the repayment of the principal and interest on the debt.
School districts are allowed to bond up to 15 percent of the district’s assessed valuation.
If the referendum is approved, the adjusted debt service levy of the school district will remain unchanged at $1.05 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation of real and personal property, according to the resolution.
The bond would fund a new school to be built on district-owned land near East Central College. The district owns 16.2 acres.
The 70,000-square-foot building is expected to cost in the $14 million range.
Beaufort Elementary and Union Middle School are slated to get classroom additions and some renovations.
The high school library also will be renovated with the funds.
There also will be an addition to the maintenance, technology and food service facility.
Clark-Vitt Elementary will be used in a smaller capacity for alternative classes, special education or other district needs.
Weinhold outlined reasons the district is asking for the bond, including to remove modular units at Central Elementary, address overcrowding by adding new classrooms, to redistribute grades with preschool through fifth grade at each elementary school.
“We are overcrowded,” Weinhold said, adding that the modular units were a five-year solution and the district is in the third year of that plan.
Another primary reason for the bond is to update aging facilities. Beaufort Elementary and the main part of Union Middle School (not the old high school building) were built in 1957. Clark-Vitt was constructed in 1966, the high school in 1989 and Central Elementary was replaced in 2000 when it was 61 years old.
Security, technology and maintenance all will be enhanced throughout the district.
Finally, Weinhold said the district has to prepare for growth.
He noted that there are approximately 180 lots without homes in St. Andrews and the new Park Place Estates subdivisions. Both subdivisions are on the east side of town.
“We’re trying to prepare for the future as well as for right now,” Weinhold said.
If the bond is approved, Weinhold said final plans would begin immediately and bids would likely be sought in the fall. Ground would be broken on the new school in early 2019.