Some expressed concerns about the total cost of replacing and renovating 's elementary schools during a public forum Tuesday on the upcoming school bond referendum.
Voters will decide on April 3 whether to allow the district to issue $55 million in general obligation bonds to rebuild three elementary schools and renovate two others. , and elementary schools would be replaced with new buildings and and elementary schools would be renovated. (Read more on plans .)
While the bond amount is $55 million, the total project is estimated to cost $60 million, which would be funded with the district's local option sales tax collections, said Ames School Board Superintendent Tim Taylor.
Board officials have said that the district's tax asking would not increase in the next year even if voters approve the bond referendum because the district needs less funds for its general fund next year. (See Patch's previous ) And the district would use local option sales tax revenues to keep levy rates low in future years.
According to the latest scenario, the district would have to levy about $1.71 per assessed $1,000 valuation to repay the bond, but taxes would not increase because the district plans to lower its general fund levy by $2.29 per assessed $1,000 valuation.
Former board president Mary Jurenka said setting the property tax levy rate and deciding how to spend local option sales tax dollars are decisions board members would make each year.
Jurenka said the board couldn't guarantee that taxes wouldn't go up at some point in the future.
“You can only guarantee that for the next year,” she said.
Another person also asked where students would go while the new buildings were being built. Meeker and Fellows elementary schools will be built on the same locations but on opposite ends of their respective properties. Edwards is going to be built on the district's Miller Avenue property.
The district's current buildings are outdated and overcrowded in some cases and they all lack flexible spaces.
Most of the schools were built before English as a second language, special education and Title I reading programs exist as they do now.
Taylor said is difficult to predict but said that it seems steady despite decreases in recent years. In October of 2010, the Ames school district's certified enrollment was 4,279. In October of 2011 that number was 4,224.
School funding is tied to the number of students counted on one day each fall. However the number of students in each Ames school building changes daily.