Heartland School administration provides update on expansion project and proposed bond election

HENDERSON – In the Heartland School District’s latest newsletter to patrons, the administration provided a detailed update on the status of their proposed expansion project and plans for an upcoming bond election:

“Our pending facilities project has been on hold for a number of months as the board of education has worked towards solving the issues that we have faced relating to project cost and financing. In August a tax request authority initiative narrowly failed and since that time the board has been identifying workable solutions and alternatives for moving forward.

“Completion of the comprehensive facilities project is still the goal of the board. To finance the completion of the comprehensive facilities project, the board plans to hold an election for the issuance of bonds as a means for securing the funds necessary for project completion. The bond election will coincide with the statewide primary election which will be held on Tuesday, May 14th . Like the bond election that was held in May of 2022, a simple majority of votes cast is required for passage of the bond initiative.

“The board has not yet determined the amount of bond authority that will be placed on the ballot, but based on the board’s work up to this point, it is likely to be an amount not to exceed approximately $6,850,000. This amount has been determined through careful examination and close scrutiny of expected project-area costs. These costs were estimated by working closely with our architect and with the advisement of a large, general contractor in a forward-looking manner.

“Between now and the election, the board and our architect will be adjusting and finalizing plans for two different types of projects: a target project and a contingency project. The target project represents the comprehensive facilities project that the board seeks to complete through passage of the bond initiative at the May election. The target project needs very little adjustment at this time, as the scope of this project has been largely finalized for a number of months. The target project includes expansion of and security enhancements to the main entrance, connecting the Ag shop to the main building, adding elementary classrooms, adding new boys and girls locker room and treatment facilities, adding new and safer weight room facilities, improvements to the north gym including AC and bleacher replacement, infrastructure updates/additions (electrical, fire panel, sprinklers, etc.), and construction of the early childhood/daycare addition. The contingency project represents a much smaller, and far less comprehensive, scope of work that would need to be completed without the passage of the additional bond initiative in May. The final scope of the contingency project is still being determined but it is likely to be limited to, at most, expanding the main entrance, connecting the Ag. shop to the main building, updating/adding infrastructure to the existing building (electrical, fire panel, sprinklers, etc.), and construction of the early childhood/daycare addition.

“In short, if the bond election in May is successful then the board will move forward with the target project. If the bond election in May is unsuccessful then the board will move forward with the contingency project. It is the intent of the board to move into the bidding phase of either project within a matter of days following the results of the election.

“Using current-year tax requests and valuations, we can provide some reasonable estimates as to the effect that the passage of the additional bond would have on our current tax levy. Our current/actual total tax levy for the 23-24 year is 57.797 cents. For the purposes of making a comparison, we can reasonably estimate that if the newly proposed bonds were in effect now, the total, combined tax levy would increase from the 57.797 cents to 64.461 cents (using current-year requests and valuations).

“Each year we will look at a regional comparison of tax levies. Including Heartland Community Schools, this regional comparison looks at all 21 schools that are headquartered in Clay, Fillmore, Hamilton, Polk, Seward, Thayer, and York counties.

  • Our current/actual total levy of 57.797 cents represents the 3 rd lowest total combined levy out of those 21 school districts.
  • In the hypothetical comparison where the new bonds were added to our current/actual total levy, that 64.461 cent levy would represent the 6th lowest total combined levy out of those 21 school districts.

“Additionally, on a statewide basis there are 244 public school districts in Nebraska.

  • Our current/actual total levy of 57.797 cents represents the 21st lowest total combined levy out of all 244 school districts in Nebraska.
  • In the hypothetical comparison where the new bonds were added to our current/actual total levy, that 64.461 cent levy would represent the 39th lowest total combined levy out of all 244 school districts in Nebraska.”
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