The Smyrna Board of Education was presented with a proposal for a referendum at the Nov. 20 board meeting.
The board will vote at the December board meeting.
Finance Director Jerry Gallagher went through the information with the school board members with a detailed PowerPoint presentation.
The referendum, if eventually approved, would cost $14.7 million. Gallagher said the state's contribution is 67 percent versus the district's share of 33 percent; therefore, the district is only responsible for $4.8 million of the project while the state would pay $9.8 million.
The process for the referendum started when the district received approval from the Department of Education for a Certificate of Necessity, which Superintendent Debbie Wicks said DOE wouldn't approve unless the projects were deemed necessary.
"This is a safety issue," Wicks said.
The capital improvements are for five facilities: Smyrna Elementary, Clayton Elementary, North Smyrna Elementary, John Bassett Moore Intermediate School, and the Thomas D. Clayton building. Changes were made to four of these buildings in the last 10 years to add additional classrooms. Gallagher said now the district needs to maintain the buildings.
Smyrna Elementary needs a kitchen/cafeteria expansion, a sprinkler, improved security systems and more. The Clayton Elementary renovations include a new HVAC, flooring, and sprinklers. North Smyrna needs renovations to address accessibility, security systems and electrical issues. JBM needs a more secure building entry, increased accessibility and more. The Thomas D. Clayton building more or less needs to be gutted to address issues with mechanical, plumbing, electrical, sprinkler and security systems.
Not in the referendum are new roofs to three of the schools. The district came in under budget for the construction of Clayton Intermediate School. State legislators agreed to let the district use the left over $5 million to put new roofs on Smyrna Elementary, JBM, and the Thomas D. Clayton Building.
The referendum is two-fold in that it includes the $14.7 million capital improvements and a current expense referendum for $1.5 million.
Gallagher told the school board the $1.5 million is so the district can continue to sustain what it does over the next three years. The district hasn't had to do a current expense referendum in 10 years, he said. The reason for the current expense referendum is to deal with the loss of state and federal funding. In the last five years, the district's share from the state has equated to a loss of roughly $1.2 million. Gallagher said that number correlates with the need for a $1.5 million current expense referendum.
School board member Ron Eby said Gallagher did a great job on the PowerPoint and noted the district's conservativeness over the years. He used the district's cashing in of three administrative positions each year – a savings of $170,000 – as an example of Smyrna's conservative stance.
"We have been so conservative and we are so fortunate to live here in a great school district with a low tax rate," Eby said. "It's important we stress that when we go out [to the residents] how conservative we have been. We do cash in units [teaching positions] and administrative positions, which puts an extra burden on our staff. It's important to let the public know that."
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