Farwell BOE to ask voters to renew bond millage

January 10, 2019

By Pat Maurer

If voters say yes in a proposed May 7th election, the Farwell Board of Education will be able to begin making much needed renovations and upgrades to the district’s buildings, property and systems next year.

A special board meeting will be held Monday, January 14th in the High School Media Center to consider approving the Preliminary Qualification Application. If that is approved by the State and Farwell BOE, the issue will be on the May 7th ballot.

“The big selling point of the proposed bond issue is that the majority of the project can be funded by voters with just renewing their current rate for 25 more years,” said Superintendent Steven Scoville.

The Farwell Middle School 7th and 8th grade girls’ basketball teams were honored as Division Champions at Mondays BOE meeting.

The Farwell Middle School 7th and 8th grade girls’ basketball teams were honored as Division Champions at Mondays BOE meeting.

The Farwell School District will be asking voters to approve the renewal of 2.37 mills for the present bond, which expires this year, and add an additional one mill to fund the renovations and improvements. With the voters’ approval, the new bond issue will raise $23,900,000.

In a 5-0 vote Monday, the Farwell BOE unanimously approved a “performance contracting services program” Monday with Johnson Controls, Inc. for the proposed bond construction project that will upgrade and renovate, improve and upgrade buildings and security systems and boiler systems in the schools.
The “performance contract” will enable Johnson Controls to begin design and prepare the massive project, which will take place only if voters approve the renewal of the existing bond (which expires this year) and an additional mill for 25 more years at a May election.

The fee for the work, already in progress by Johnson Controls, will be paid only if and when the bond issue is approved by voters.

Superintendent Steven Scoville said the performance contract was selected after the BOE considered both a “traditional bond approach and the performance contracting method.”

At the regular meeting Scoville said a “sinking fund” had also been suggested in a letter from a local resident. “The reason for using the bond process are numerous,” Scoville said. “They include the amount needed for the project, the time frame of the needs and the limitations of the sinking fund process.”

He said they selected the performance contracting because of “guaranteed fixed costs and guaranteed performance and energy savings.”

“Johnson Controls is guaranteeing the cost of the project and $2,246,206 in general fund savings over a 25-year term,” he said.

If the 3.37 mill bond proposal (the renewal of existing bond millage of 2.37 mills plus one additional mill) passes, it will raise nearly $24 million over the 25-year term.

The money, if approved by voters, will give the district the funds to finance the following improvements:

Renovate the Elementary building. Scoville said the existing building was three buildings incorporated into one in 1991. Plans are to demolish the west wing (built in 1949) and use that area for a new parking lot. A new six-room south-west wing will replace the part being demolished. The new classrooms will have an early childhood education focus. The elementary office will move from the Ohio Street entrance to the new west parking lot. The east wing of the Elementary building will get a new roof and have the ceilings raised to the proper height.

Boilers and roofs will be a big part of the renovations. Scoville said the average age in the boilers is 32 years. “Twenty years is considered the standard life expectancy of a boiler.” He added that the Elementary has 11 boilers, an inefficient system that is expensive to operate and maintain. “All buildings will have major improvements made to roofs and boilers,” he said.

The replacement of Windows and lights are also planned. “These upgrades will generate $2,246,206 in general fund savings over the 25-year term” of the bond, Scoville said.

The project also includes the repair and resurfacing of the track at the Kerwin Paesens Athletic Complex, a new ticket booth and fencing improvements.

Resurfacing of the old High School gym floor is also in the bucket list of improvements.

Scoville said, “The priorities for this bond are safety, security, improved educational spaces and system efficiencies. The security for all building entrances will be improved, a recommendation from law enforcement.”

He said, “major changes will be done to our parking lots and drop off areas. Anyone who has driven down Ohio Street at 7:45 a.m. on a school day knows that is a need.”

He continued, “The new plan will separate busses from cars…and eliminate the need to cross Ohio to access the Elementary” by increasing the parking spaces with the new parking lot.

He concluded, “No longer will students being dropped off have to cross a parking lot and cut between busses.”

In another matter at the regular meeting, a wage re-opener for the Teamsters contract was ratified unanimously by the BOE.

The union and board have agreed to a small one-time payment to members.

The amount of the one-time payment has not been released yet due to the continuing negotiations between the district and the Farwell Education Support Association (FESA) contract re-opener.

The board met in closed session following the regular meeting Monday evening for more negotiations with the second group.

Other business at the regular meeting included:

*Approval to hire Farwell Elementary School Title 1 Paraprofessional Stacie Laverty; Farwell Middle School Title 1 Paraprofessionals Trichia Vincent, Kailin Glazier, and Teresa May and Kitchen Server/Helper Julayne Gurnee.

*Three resignations were approved: That of High School Special Education Paraprofessional Teresa Mackie (effective at the end of the school year), Custodian Joel Bidstrup and JV Baseball Coach Justin Williams.

*Honoring the 7th and 8th grade girls’ basketball teams who were both Middle School Division Champions, the 8th grade team with a undefeated record.

*Honoring FHS Students of the Month including Rachel Odykirk, Amber Flowers, Chloe Gerow, Nicholas O’Brien, Montana Shimmons and Billy Jo Trask.

*Hearing a detailed presentation on Youth Needs from Michelle Neff, of MSU Extension.

*Approval of bills totaling $457,196.16.

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