With a room filled with some Smyrna School District staff and a handful of residents, the Smyrna School District administrations and Board of Education held a public meeting Feb. 5 at Smyrna Elementary to discuss the upcoming major capital improvements and current expense referendum.
Voting will be done on Saturday, Feb. 22.
Finance Director Jerry Gallagher explained that the referendum is two-fold in that residents will vote for or against the major capital improvements referendum, and then for or against the current expense referendum.
Gallagher said the last current expense referendum was done in 2004. There were major capital improvement referendums done since then for the building of new schools and expansions, but the upcoming $14.7 million major capital improvements referendum is more or less for the upkeep of the older buildings.
"Those referendums were to deal with the growth. This is to deal with the issues that arose while we were dealing with the growth," Gallagher said.
The district is only responsible for $4.8 million of the cost of the improvements; the state will pay the rest.
Gallagher also said several of the previous projects such as the Smyrna Middle School expansion were done under budget, which has allowed the district to address other needs. The completion of Clayton Intermediate School came in under budget, which will now enable the district to use the excess money on roof issues at other schools.
The current expenses referendum is needed, Gallagher said, so the district can continue to offer the programs it currently has. Gallagher said the $1.5 million current expense referendum is needed to meet projected expenses over the next three years. He said this needs coincides with the loss of $1.2 million in state funding in recent years.
The tax increases on a home with a market value of $200,000 would total about $92 in the first year, and then $112 in the second year. After that, the property tax rate would decrease slightly each year. If the referendum is approved, the Smyrna School District will go from having the third lowest tax rate to the fourth lowest tax rate.
"We're not going to be able to maintain the programs. We're not going to be able to build on our successes if we do not pass this referendum and have an increase in local funding," Gallagher said. "We don't ask for more than we need and we give a good return in our investment."
Superintendent Debbie Wicks told those in attendance that it's clear what the district is trying to do through the referendum.
"We need to do this and we'll do it again until it gets passed," Wicks said. "People ask what we'll do if it doesn't pass. We'll have to keep doing it. If it doesn't pass we'll have to look at staff. We never hire more than we need and we even cash in on some positions. We try to be very good with the taxpayers' money."
Page 2 of 2 - Major Capital Improvements
- Smyrna Elementary School – accessibility issues, parking lot reconfiguration, toilet room modifications; cafeteria renovations and expansion; building system upgrades, safety and security systems, plumbing, electrical, mechanical upgrades, HVAC, building envelope, addition of sprinkler and fire alarm systems, and other upgrades
- Clayton Elementary School – building envelope issues; new sprinkler system and flooring upgrades; replacement of roof-top heating units; upgrading and replacement of duct work; replacement of air handling units; adding security cameras, and card readers throughout the building
- North Smyrna Elementary School – addressing accessibility issues; sprinkler systems; replace ceiling; plumbing and electrical upgrades; upgrades to fire alarm, telephone and security systems
- John Bassett Moore Intermediate School – addressing building envelope issues; building entry modification for security and accessibility; security system upgrades; replace HVAC system and duct work; resurfacing and repainting tennis courts; replacing telephone system; and replacing generator
- Thomas D. Clayton Building – addressing building envelope issues; ceiling replacements; abandoned utilities; interior demolitions to construct new partitions; new mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems; sprinkler system; fire alarm and security systems
- school security and student safety such as cameras and secure building access points
- the required local match for transportation services enacted by the state in 2011
- alignment of curriculum and staff training
- computer maintenance and equipment replacement
- student supports such as math and reading specialists
- meeting the demands of continued student growth on the local portion or new teaching positions and increased instructional materials
- band instrument and music replacements
- raising awareness of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as an interdisciplinary to teaching and learning
- working with community organizations to provide career pathways in identified fields such as Allied Health