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School board approves creating bond petition

GTNS photo by David Hotle

Building committee member Mike Jorgensen hands out a list of proposed cost savings on the Highland School Distirct’s greenhouse project during the regular Highland School Board meeting Monday evening in Highland High school.
GTNS photo by David Hotle Building committee member Mike Jorgensen hands out a list of proposed cost savings on the Highland School Distirct’s greenhouse project during the regular Highland School Board meeting Monday evening in Highland High school.

RIVERSIDE — Highland Schools Superintendent Ken Crawford does not believe a petition for a $2.6 million bond referendum will go to the public much before Christmas, as the wording still needs to be set and the number of signatures needed still needs to be determined.

During its regular meeting Monday evening, the Highland School Board approved a request from the school building committee to have a petition for the referendum drafted and distributed to the public. Crawford said the last time the district had a petition of this kind drafted, the cost was $500. The building petition will then circulate the petition in the community for the appropriate number of signatures. The number needed is based on a percentage of the people in the district who voted in the previous gubernatorial election.

“Once they bring it back to the board, the board will then decide if they want to go on with the bond issue or not,” Crawford said. “Once you do that you have to have exact numbers and ready to roll.”

During a previous meeting the committee had requested the bonding petition be drafted, which led to many questions from the board members. A special meeting was held Dec. 3 to go over the proposal for the improvement of the school building.

The goal is to replace multiple environmental control systems in the Highland building with one Heating, Ventalation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. The bond would also be used to resurface the school’s playground surface and make improvements to the school’s fine arts area.

While the amounts for the renovations aren’t solid yet, Crawford believes the amount being bonded for would be about $3 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. He also said the tax rates in the district have dropped about $3 in the past few years and that tax rates are projected to go down again, so taxpayers would see no increase as a result of the bond.

The committee has been studying a plan to consolidate the school’s environmental systems in one unit. Currently, there are eight different units controlling the climate of the school. The HVAC (Heating, Ventalation, Air Conditioning) system is expected to cost about $2.2 million. During an informational gathering meeting, people surveyed were unanimous in preferring rooftop HVAC units.

Later in the meeting, the board approved allocating an additional $15,000 to a project to construct a greenhouse as part of Highland High School’s FFA chapter.

Construction committee member Mike Jorgensen explained the committee had underestimated the amount it would take to construct the greenhouse. Previously the cost was projected to be $75,000 and cost estimates came back as $93,500.

Jorgensen recommended about $7,500 in cuts to the project, bringing the cost to within $11,000 of the initial estimate. Instead the board members unanimously approved granting the additional money rather than remove certain elements, such as a fence, from the project.