"Trustees face bond election deadline" by: Jessica Shepard

   Bay City school trustees have until midnight Monday Aug. 22, to decide if they will call for a possible $96.8 million bond election aimed at building and remodeling campuses across the district. 
   That was the message that an architectural team told the school board Monday night, Aug. 15. 
   The bond election would cover remodeling several campuses based on needs that a committee ranked over a series of meetings earlier this year. 
   Aug. 22 is the deadline for calling for a Nov. 8 bond election.
   Bo Ledoux, Francis Zordilla and Jolie Willis – all with Claycomb Associates, Architects - presented an informational recap on the possibility of calling a bond election to trustees. 
   “The board did not take any action last night - we were just an information item,” said Willis. 
   The presentation began during the regular meeting and discussion continued after the session was officially adjourned. 
   “If they decide to move forward, they will post the meeting this Friday and vote to call next Monday,” Willis told the Sentinel in an email Tuesday, Aug. 16. 
   They have until midnight on Monday Aug. 22 to vote to call for a bond election, she clarified. 
   The Sentinel tried to reach Superintendent Keith Brown to go over Willis’ comments, but he didn’t respond. 
   The school needs committee members toured the campuses, beginning in early 2016, and provided feedback to trustees in four sessions before May. 
   Current bond proposal plans focus on Bay City Junior High, Linnie Roberts Elementary, Tenie Holms Elementary and Bay City High School. 
   That includes moving pre-kindergarten students to home campuses at Roberts and Holmes. 
   “If we move Pre-K to Holmes and Roberts it’ll help take some of the pressure off of Cherry,” said trustee Bobby Kimball. Cherry now has all of the district’s pre-k students. 
   By removing that group of students, Cherry would not receive any bond issue improvements or remodeling, Brown has said in earlier discussions. 
   Another bond issue option explored remodeling McAllister Middle School, or building a new campus at that site. 
   Renovations to McAllister would cost over $16.6 million and a new facility would cost about $28.1 million and only house fourth- and fifth-grade students. 
   “It’s pretty obvious that people can drive around and have had some experience over at Bay City Intermediate School, but, when you drive by McAllister it doesn’t look dilapidated. It looks like a pretty nice structure,” said Kimball. 
   “And that’s going to probably be a big contention there,” he said. 
   “People are going to say that it was a good facility when you moved out and now you don’t want to return to it for any use at all,” continued Kimball. 
   “What you’re saying is to return (to McAllister) will cost us $16 to $17 million to bring everything up,” he added. 
   Kimball said that if the district spent $17 million it would solve the enrollment problems and ease the pressure off the three elementaries. 
   “But it doesn’t solve the facility problems and all the infrastructure. That wouldn’t help us overall,” he contended. 
   “Basically with the renovations you’re adding more square footage than if you keep the kids at Holmes, Roberts and Cherry,” said Ledoux, an architect with Claycomb Associates. 
   Including McAllister – hiring more staff for the school - will be an added cost on top of everything, said Kimball. 
   “I guess the hardest pill to swallow is when we start looking at $111 million and $91 million,” said Kimball, referring to previous bond estimates. 
   “And we’re not getting any new buildings out of it really, just additions,” said trustee Crystal Allison. 
   “That’s the hard part to swallow; we’ll still have holes,” Allison added. 
   Projected costs for each version of the plan have already gone up several million dollars since being first proposed earlier this year. 
   The school board decided not to call a bond election in May at the advice of needs committee members who wanted more information. 
   “When you call the bond, you will be calling it for a certain amount and that amount will include the budgets for each of the (campus) projects,” said Ledoux. 
   “From an informational standpoint, you still have all the things that are in the same place. Still have the same needs,” he added. 
   “The only thing that’s changed since the last time we met as a committee is that now things are a little bit more expensive than they were back then.” 
   Based on the needs committee, the main projects should be Bay City Junior High, Linnie Roberts, Tenie Holmes and a new baseball field at the high school campus, along with weight-room renovations that will account for construction at the junior high campus. 
   Those campus improvements would cost about $96.8 million as a bond issue - if called for a vote by the board in November. 
   There is also one plan featuring a new stadium and athletic complex at the High School, but it is not an immediate need, based on the committee’s results. 
   “We want to adopt our tax rate on Sept. 19, at the next board meeting,” said Richard Johnson, BCISD Finance Director. 
   “The good news is that the administration is recommending that we propose a maintenance tax rate of $1.14730 per $100 valuation; which is exactly the same as last year, not to go up from one year to the next.” 
   “So, what we propose is (debt service of) 18.390 cents, which means it’s a penny less than last year,” said Johnson. 
   The total proposed tax levy is $1.33120 - both maintenance and debt service. 
   The rollback rate for BCISD is $1.33132, according to the county tax assessor. 
   If the district exceeded the rollback rate, it would automatically trigger an election for voter approval of the tax rate. 
   The school board also: 

  •     Adopted a resolution authorizing the sale of delinquent tax property Tract No. 5, Lot 8, Block 28 Original Townsite of the City of Bay City. 
  •     Amended the budget to increase the revenue budget tied to the BCHS Remediation Project. 
  •     Approved BCHS Phase E Mechanical Revisions Construction Change Directives regarding duct work in the gym and auditorium for a total of $26,491. This money will be taken from the contingency allowance in the Phase E Contract, leaving a total of $187,091. 
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