Kingman Norwich USD 331
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
RE: The Bond
We will continue to add and update FAQ’s as they come in. Check Back or Ask your own.
Information about the upcoming bond issue can be found on the district’s website: www.knusd331.com
Q: I read on Facebook that the existing 1999 Bond Issue should have been paid off years ago. Any truth to that?
A: No, there is absolutely no truth to that statement. The bond issue referred to was passed in a special election on October 5, 1999. It was clearly printed in the informational pamphlets (as well as in the legal documentation for the bond project) that the repayment schedule for that bond project was for 20 years. The 1999 Bond Issue was NOT Extended. All of those documents are on file at the district office and were signed by the Board of Education president at that time on behalf of the Board. That schedule has been in place for 19 ½ years now. The final scheduled payment was Oct. 1, 2019 (6 months from now). The USD 331 was able to pay the 1999 bond issue off EARLY. We paid it off on April 17, 2019, a half year ahead of schedule. We are very proud of that fact and feel that a majority of our patrons appreciate that also. The district also would like patrons to know that we refinanced those bonds in 2011 to take advantage of lower interest rates. That refinancing saved the district over $200,000.00 in interest over these past 8 years.
Q: I read on Facebook and in the newspaper that ALL HVAC units will be replaced as part of this bond project. Is that true?
A: No. Obviously the RTU’s on the main gym at Kingman High were just replaced in March and paid for out of Capital Outlay so they won’t be replaced since they are brand new. People couldn’t believe the units on the “New Gym” at KHS already needed to be replaced. Those units were 18 years old. Basically the same age as the ones on the 18-19 year old gym at Norwich. We will be replacing those soon also. One way or the other. They will probably cost about the same as the KHS gym RTU’s. We had bids from $78,000 to $104,000 for the same job. In addition to that, we have replaced HVAC units at Norwich in the last 2-6 year and have spent around $400,000 on those. Statistically we should expect to get 15-25 years out of them. The technology behind them is not brand new but they are VRF technology and energy efficient. They won’t be replaced. We are not puttiing in units that have a life expectancy of 12 yrs. Will we have to replace anything new before the bond is paid off? Who knows? Probably. We will work hard and diligently perform preventative maintenance to prolong and extend the life of our equipment. We know we have been questioned on our commitment to maintenance of what we have got and we are assuring our patrons that we want to regain your confidence. See question 9 below.
Q: Is there a plan for safe rooms in any of our buildings? I went to Goddard and see that they are adding them to every building. Would feel more comfortable if we had one in Norwich.
A: This is briefly answered in Question 13 below. To expand a bit on that. Kingman High had rooms “hardened” and tornado-rated doors added to the “old” lockerooms in the 1999 bond issue so KHS is in good shape as far as tornado shelters. Norwich is not in bad shape though we are going to do some signifcant improvements to the existing shelters areas. They are in the locker rooms under the permanent seating in the “Nest” gym. We had engineers come in as part of the planning process and evaluate each school for storm/tornado/safe room shelters. The existing rooms in Norwich will be gutted and remodeled as well as putting in tornado-rated doors. Kingman Elementary school has the least safe areas in the district. We have a few interior rooms we move kids and staff too. As part of this project, KES will get rooms that are on lower level on north end of the school “hardened” with windows either removed or shutters installed and walls will be hardened to be able to withstand tornadic winds. We would then have FEMA standards tornado shelters in all schools in the district. To be clear, they are not new construction added to the outside of existing buildings but are hardening of exiting space to FEMA standards.
Q: What if this bond issue fails? Can we immediately get back in line for a bond request that voters will be more accepting of, understanding that we have to get approved due to the Bond Cap? i.e. Can we get right back in line July 1st?
A: The short answer to whether we can get back in line is Yes. BUT, there would be a tremendous amount of work to be done. The rest of the story: It has taken a lot of time and work to get to this point with this current proposal. It has involved many trips to Kingman and Norwich by engineers (structural, electrical/mechanical, HVAC experts), roofing experts, contractors, bond finance advisors, bond legal counsel, architects and more. They have met with administration, KIDS Comittee, and with the board to reduce costs. Every time the cost has come down, we have had to decide to remove something from the list of improvements. This professional team has been working with the board for as much as 4 years on planning. They have 100’s of hours invested in our project to get it to this point of ready for a vote. The committee feels as if we have already reduced the size of the project to necessities that are aligned with the identified priorities. If we don’t pass it, we need to reconvene, get specific public feedback, and try and reprioritze what we need vs what we really need, vs what we really really need. If we are going to cut several million off of this project we are going to have to decide what is less important to our patrons: The plumbing and renovation of 50+ yr old restrooms? (Is it OK that Most of the toilets work most of the time?) Some of the roofs? That can certainly be done and we can hope for a hailstorm. (Statistically there should be a hailstorm sometime in the future but we certainly don’t know when.) Can we hold off on safety and security? Don’t renovate and harden areas in schools to be FEMA-quality severe weather storm shelters? (Because most of the tornados we see on the news are later in the afternoon or evening so the odds of the schools getting hit by a tornado during the day are slim. Don’t tell that to the people in Moore, Oklahoma.) Should we not worry about enhancing/hardening school entrances so everyone that enters the school must enter through the office? (We know we have great kids and peaceful communities but, but do we have guarentees we won’t ever have an intruder with a gun try to enter our schools?) Should we not worry about HVAC units being replaced and just plan to replace them as they fail. (a typical closet unit that heats and cools 2 rooms is $6000+ to replace at KES, the RTU’s on roof we just replaced were $20,000 each) (Is it ok that some classrooms are uncomfortable as we wait for replacement units?) Should we simply not fix plumbing in locker rooms? (Kids don’t take showers at school anyway. Actually many do.) So, once we go through that list of Cuts, then revised cost projections because we are farther out into the future, then getting all the legal paperwork put together with revised numbers and projects, it would be a tight turnaround dependent on the experts and their ability to schedule our newly prioritized needs into their existing projects for others. (We are not the only school district they are working with.) The longer answer is that we are not certain we could have a solid proposal with enough detail to get approved by July 1st. If consensus of the board was to try to get back in line for July 1 then we would do our absolute best to make that happen.
Q: It has been suggested the District is trying to deceive taxpayers as to exactly how many tax mills this Bond Project is going to cost you as a patron.
A: We are not trying to deceive. If Both Questions 1 & 2 pass, your tax statement line for USD 331 Bond & Interest will read approximately 18.96 mills. You, as a taxpayer, have been paying, on average, 10.37 mills for USD 331 B & I over the past 16 years. Our assumption was that taxpayers are accustomed to the 10.37 mills. That is what you’ve been paying. Kind of like your mortgage. That is just what it is month in, month out, year in year out. Like it or not, that is simply what it costs to live in your home and make the mortgage and the taxes, year in and year out for the school district bond is 10.37 mills. You budget for that. We know your taxes are going to increase with passage of this bond. How much? The Bond & Interest will go up by approximately 8.59 mills if both questions pass. Yes, that is a Total Bond & Interest tax levy of 18.96 mills. But doesn’t it make sense that if you are USED to the 10.37 then the only New strain on your budget is the 8.59 mills? If this still isn’t clear, we would welcome the opportunity to try and explain it differently. The district phone numer is 620-532-3134. Max Clark’s cell phone number is 620-532-1447. See Question 24 below.
For the sake of transparency, this year on your tax statement from the county, the USD 331 Bond and Interest mill levy was only 6.165 mills. Why? Because that is all we needed to levy to make this final payment that was made last month. When we state that you are used to 10.37 mills, remember that number is the average over the bond life. You have paid as much as 14.47 mills if you have owned your home for 20 years. On the other hand, if you have only owned your home for 1 or 2 years then all you’ve seen on your tax statement is 6.165 mills this year and 8.765 mills last year. Your mill levy changes depending on district assessed valuation and how much money we need to raise to make the payments. The biggest variable is the property appraisers valuation of property.
Q: A friend told me his Property Tax Appraisal that we all received in February said his home’s appraised value increased by $25,000!!!!!! He is angry and fearful that this Bond will be unaffordable.
A: Most of us would agree that the only time we want a really high appraisal is when we are trying to sell our homes. For tax purposes, we like low. I know we relieved some fear and anxiety by walking this friend through how to determine exactly how much financial pain this increase in his homes appraised value was going to cost him. (A mill is 1/1000 of $1 or $1.00 tax for every $1000 in value.)
We took that surprise $25,000 increase in value and multiplied it by 11.5% (the tax assessed valuation of homes) = $2875
Now I took that $2875 and multiplied it by 18.96 mills (move decimal to left 3 places 0.01896) (total mill levy for Bond) = $2875 X 0.01896 = $54.91 tax increase per year or divide $54.91 by 12 mo. = $4.54 increase per month.
After seeing that, even with his increased home value, it was only going to increase another $4.54 above what it would have been he wasn’t shook up any longer and even said he was going to do his part to help educate people on the Facts of this bond issue.
Q: Aren't bond issues typically utilized for new construction / expansions and why are there so many deferred maintenance items without funding through the regular budget? Has geothermal been considered for greater efficiency and potentially lifespan?
A: Bonds are issued for a number of needs. Generally, issuing them for new construction is more exciting because patrons and the public actually get to “See” the changes take place before their eyes. In the end, we have new buildings. In 1999, the district passed bonds for new construction that have been wonderful additions to both communities. This 2019 bond has basically no new construction to be seen from the outside. In other words, we are not expanding the “footprint” of the district. There are no “Luxury” items in the bond proposal. Generally, the public hears the term “deferred maintenance” and they interpret that as meaning “failure to maintain”. Our reality is that the district has a lot of square footage (over 300,000) to maintain and we don’t have the budget to do everything up to industry recommendations. Facilty Maintenance guidelines suggest a district our size should budget at least $1.5 million per year for maintenance alone. That figure doesn’t include equipment replacement. USD 331 raises under $700,000 per year in our Capital Outlay fund. You can see right there that we are behind from the outset. What do we spend Capital Outlay money on? Repair & replacement of air conditioners and heaters (HVAC): buses (we try to replace one per year at about $80-85,000; roof repair due to leaks; parking lots, hot water heaters; restroom repair; furniture; technology. We know we need to work on fixing things in a more timely manner and we have a plan to help prioritize and get the most pressing needs fixed or replaced. We have also been successful in maintaining a lot of equipment well past its projected useful life. Examples are several rooftop (RTU) HVAC units served us for over 35 years. Granted, they were probably not very energy efficient, but they heated and cooled. – until they didn’t. At which point we have to become reactionary and replace. We heard from people that they couldn’t believe the RTU’s on the “new gym” needed to be replaced already. The reality is that those RTU’s are 19 years old. They certainly didn’t exceed their projected life and we didn’t get any borrowed life out of them. We have had lots of discussion on roofs and what can be done for maintaining them. When I mentioned we have over 300,000 square feet of buildings to maintain that means we also have over 300,000 square feet of roof to maintain. We are fortunate to have local people that work hard with us to maintain our schools at reasonable rates. And we make it a high priority to do as much business locally as we can.
On the geothermal question- Great question! Yes we talked about it briefly. We know a district about 65 miles down the road put in geothermal but they also dug 98 wells to implement that. They had to go 410’ per well and spent about $2000 per well to drill (so about $196,000 total on holes) Unfortunately, we have tried to put in a water well at KHS in several locations and could not find water. The experts tell us that if you have water at a reasonable depth and it is on new construction it is much more cost effective. Is geothermal a great solution? Yes, if the location is right and your top priority is energy efficiency and cost is not an object.
1. How do I vote on May 7th?
You must be registered to vote. If you haven’t already registered to vote and would like to, click here:
USD 331 patrons who live in Sumner County, Harper County, Reno County and Sedgwick County will vote IN Kingman County at the nearest regular official polling place within Kingman County. Ex) if a patron lives in Milton, they will vote in Norwich at the City Building, not in Conway Springs.
For special elections, an average of only 16% of Kingman County voters actually vote. Make sure your voice is heard on election day, go to the polls and vote on May 7th!
2. Why now? What is the reason(s) for the district to seek a bond issue in May 2019?
Simply stated we have facilities to maintain. The needs are today and the costs will continue to rise, at roughly 4% inflation meaning if all of the issues addressed were put off, it would cost approximately $900,000 more each year they were not completed.
Other factors that make this timing advantageous include favorable interest rates which remain at historical lows while inflation will continue to drive costs upward making materials less expensive now then they will likely be in the future.
3. How were the bond budgets determined?
For well over 4 years, numerous architects, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning companies, roofers, engineers and other mechanical systems analysts have investigated concerns and issues regarding the facilities in Kingman and Norwich. A steering committee made up of community members, teachers and district administrators researched several possibilities to address the identified issues over several years. The proposed scope of the project was narrowed over countless hours and multiple meetings.
According to building estimates, based on square footage, a cap of $24 million was established to allow the design team the ability to renovate all facilities for a dry and climate controlled environment that meets students’ needs and will position the district for continued success.
The $19,075,000 for Question 1 and $3,960,000 for Question 2 represents the total expense for design fees, building construction (materials & labor), site-development, bonding expenses, attorney fees, etc. This is a “turn-key” amount.
4. Why are there two questions on the ballot?
The BOE voted to break out this bond into two questions to allow the community to decide exactly what amount they want to spend on these projects and to give the district patrons a choice.
Question 1 is HVAC, roofing and remodel upgrades to existing district facilities. Question 2 adds remodeling Kingman Elementary and Norwich playgrounds. Further detail can be found on the website where slides are posted. The link is http://www.knusd331.com where you can receive the following:
5. Why is there more money being spent in Kingman, compared to Norwich?
The Norwich facility is in good shape compared to Kingman. This bond would prevent reactively funding issues from worn out roofs and HVAC systems in Kingman currently being paid by capital outlay funds. There just aren’t enough capital outlay funds to address all of the needs so those issues which require the highest need are repaired and/or replaced. Roofs alone at Kingman High School will cost $3.5 million to replace, which is 5 times the annual capital outlay annual income for all facilities and capital needs.
6. What happens if we go over or under the budgeted amount?
The $19,075,000 for Question 1 and $3,960,000 for Question 2 budgets are a “do not exceed” amount and the Kingman Norwich Board of Education will have the ultimate oversight over the project and its cost.
If the project is under budget, the board can enhance the projects in the bond or use the “left-over” funds to lessen the tax mill levy increase.
7. Does the current design address the building committee recommendations?
It addresses most of the building committee recommendations, especially in regard to student learning spaces, the least expensive alternative, and the needs, not necessarily the wants. Some items recommended by the building committee such as a new weight room were not included due to their expense.
8. Does this bond program provide a long-term solution for the district?
Like school districts across the state, USD 331 is seeking this bond to address long-term facility needs. Not unlike your own home, air conditioning, heating, plumbing, electrical, roofing and other infrastructure need to be replaced after their useful life. Commercial units and large building roofs and other infrastructure are expensive to replace and update and thus bonds need to be considered to address the needs. The last bond passed in 1999 and will be paid off April 18, 2019 about 6 months ahead of schedule.
9. Is this proposed project actually big enough? In other words, are all current and future needs being addressed for the next 20 years or are major needs being left out?
Based on economics, the BOE identified projects are what must happen now. Obviously, there are some things left off the list and the BOE is well aware those projects will need to be addressed down the road.
10. Will there be savings to the school budget with updated facilities.
Yes! We estimate there may be $300,000 per year from maintenance alone and there should be a significant utility savings as well with more efficient HVAC.
11. Where can I receive detail on the work to take place at each facility?
Details for each school and each segment (remodel, roofing, HVAC) can be found on the district’s website at www.knusd331.com.
12. Where can I receive budget detail on the work to take place at each facility?
Project cost breakdown is located at the district’s website at www.knusd331.com.
13. Are all the district buildings getting tornado and severe weather storm shelters or safe rooms?
Yes. There will be storm shelters in all three district buildings and will be tornado safe.
14. Will there be secured entries at each facility?
Yes. All facilities will require entry and check-in through the main office during the school day before entering into the main building.
15. Will the classrooms be upgraded?
Yes. Ceilings, paint, flooring and light remodeling will be completed throughout all facilities, assuming both questions are approved. Some remodeling will be removed if only question 1 is approved. At Kingman High School where the classrooms are old, too small, and not up to current teaching and learning needs will be extensively remodeled. In addition, the extensive remodeling at KHS actually allows the replacement of antiquated plumbing, electrical and HVAC to be completed in an efficient and less expensive manner. Replacing plumbing, electrical, and HVAC in currently existing walls in KHS would be difficult to accomplish. With the updates, the buildings will look new and modern.
16. Are Kingman-Norwich patrons supportive of the 7th and 8th grade students being relocated to Kingman High School?
Kingman 7th and 8th grade students currently spend part of their school day at the Kingman High school. Several of the courses 7th and 8th grade students would like to take are taught by high school staff. The BOE determined the most effective and efficient way to move forward was to move 7th and 8th grades to Kingman High School and redesign the facility to accommodate all students grades 7-12. There is adequate space. Norwich PK-12 students already reside in one building in Norwich.
17. Will Kingman High School plumbing be upgraded?
Yes. The plumbing and drain lines will be removed and replaced.
18. Why is there so much heavy renovation happening at Kingman High School?
The HVAC renovation will require major renovation. While that renovation is happening, the facility committee thought it would be best to adjust the classroom layout to best accommodate the learning environment needed in 2019 and beyond. The high school is the most structurally sound building in Kingman, but the interior layout should accommodate current needs.
19. Why are all the roofs and mechanical systems being replaced in the district?
The district has not had enough capital funds to replace roofs. The age of the roofs and the mechanical systems are either past due for replacement or nearing end of normal life and the district has been repairing leaks on from roofs and repairing or replacing HVAC units as needed. A few roofs have a few years left (less that 5 years). The most efficient use of funds is to do the roof replacements at the same time for an efficient investment. Pricing through the competitive bid process should reflect the savings. Higher efficiency HVAC units will also reduce the costs the district pays for utilities.
20. Why is part of Kingman Elementary going to be torn down?
While the part of this facility has great history and was used for generations of students, it is the most expensive part of the building to renovate. The most efficient use of funds was to shift 7th and 8th grade students to Kingman High. The high school has plenty of room to house the additional students. These students are currently bussed to and from the high school. This shift would cut costs of travel and save instructional time. The elementary school would still have more space than needed following the demolition. In order to save on utility and maintenance costs, the facility committee determined it was best to remove this portion of Kingman Elementary.
21. When Kingman low (Lowe) wing is demolished, what will happen to the exposed walls?
After the bond is approved, the architect will draw a plan to match the rest of the facility to cover the exposed exterior walls that remain. This will include insulation and an attractive façade. The district elected not to spend money on this design until the rest of the project design is being finalized. It will be designed to complement and match the remaining facility.
22. How long is the entire construction going to take?
Some components will be accomplished in a relative short amount of time e.g. the first summer. However, the renovations to Kingman High School will take the most time due to phasing projects in as the renovations will be made while school is in session during the school year. All parties, including the BOE, architect and construction manager, will coordinate to provide the most efficient schedule to the district with the least amount of disruption to the learning environment. Based upon anticipated scope, the range could be between 24 and 36 months.
23. Will bids be taken from all interested contractors or does the CMAR already have all of the work?
Yes. The CMAR (Construction Manager at Risk) will manage the process, but all of the work will be competitively bid.
24. What is the tax impact associated with this bond issue? Examples are designed to illustrate what the INCREASE in Mill Levy will be ABOVE what we have all been paying, on average, for the last Bond Issue that was passed almost 20 years ago. Thus, the net impact over what we are currently paying. The last lines of this section is the actual math on how to calculate the total cost of the repayment. We had questions on this so we are trying to clarify. You can apply the same math to your individual Property Valuation Statement that you should have received from the County in February. As Always- if something doesn’t make sense- please contact the school district office and we would appreciate the opportunity to sit down with you and try to help make sense of this.
Question 1 is a 5.30 mill increase over the average mill rate for 1999 Bond (10.37 mills) . For a $75,000 home this will be a net tax increase of ~$3.81 per month.
Question 2 is a 3.29 mill increase. For a $75,000 home this will be a net tax increase of ~$2.36 per month more than average.
If both questions pass it would be a 8.59 mill increase on top of the average annual mill levy of 10.37mills. For a $75,000 home this would be a total net tax increase of ~$6.17 per month.
Thus- the owner of a $75,000.00 home would be able to plan for the Bond & Interest Mill Levy for:
Proposition 1: 15.67 mills (old bond average of 10.37 + new bond 5.30 mills)
Proposition 2: 3.29 mills
Total for Both: 18.96 mills (old bond average mills of 10.37 + prop 1: 5.37 mills + prop 2: 3.29 mills)
Impact on $75,000 home:
The math: $75,000 fair market value multiplied by 11.5% = $8,625.00 assessed taxable value
$8,625.00 X 18.96 mills = 163,530 Divided by 1000 = $163.53 per year for your bond tax (divide by 12 = $13.62 per month)
25. Are assessed valuations such as agriculture land trending up or down?
While land has had slight depreciation in recent years, historically it is trending upward. Like all markets, there are peaks and valleys, but our research shows a long-term increase in valuations.
26. There are a lot of people on fixed income in this district/town/community. How can they be expected to support this?
Everyone has to make their own individual decisions on what they can afford. This is the reason the Board split the bond issue into two questions. It is also the reason the BOE is recommending no more than $24 million in improvements even though there are several additional needs they don’t feel the community can afford at this time.
27. How much state aid will Kingman Norwich obtain and will this same amount be available in the future?
Our current bond debt is receiving 35% state aid.
Bonds passed after July 1, 2016 had this number reduced by the state legislature. If this May 2019 bond issue passes, we will receive 10% state aid. The estimated state aid benefit of this bond issue is $5,359,500. There is no guarantee this state aid will be available in the coming years and current state aid fluctuates as the wealth of districts change state-wide.
28. Will this new facility increase property values in the Kingman Norwich district?
Public purpose projects are exempt from property taxation, so this new facility will not add to the tax base; however, it is widely accepted that modern, functional schools attract new families and companies or individuals to a community that buy or build houses and businesses which do add to the tax base. Modern schools will not directly increase property values, but indirectly it will add to the tax base.
29. What are the enrollment numbers across the district looking like?
Norwich’s numbers are holding relatively steady while Kingman’s numbers have declined over the past decade. That is one reason the Board is trying to reduce the footprint in Kingman to be more efficient.
30. Does the BOE support the Bond?
Yes. The Board voted unanimously in December to pass a resolution to apply for available bonds through the Kansas State Department of Education and were approved by the Kansas State Board of Education. The Board are behind the scope and cost 100%. They also believe both questions should pass. On February 11th, the Board voted 6-1 for final development of the bond election questions. The vote was related to whether the bond should be split into two questions, not if they support the bond. One Board member favored only one question that addressed all of the needs.
31. Is there a “Plan B” if this fails?
No. The BOE realizes all of the work is needed and necessary.
32. Will there be another bond issue in 20 years?
More than likely, yes. Most school districts have bond debt they are repaying.
33. Are we replacing all HVAC at Norwich?
No, the HVAC units that are in good condition will not be replaced. Some VRF units at Norwich are only a little over a year old. A lot of RTU’s at Norwich have failed over the past 5-8 years. Those units worked well beyond their expected service life but did finally need to be replaced. They have been replaced with much higher efficiency units. The Norwich HVAC Scope of work areas shown in red are not intended to be replaced. (click here)