SCHOOL NEWS: School projects, costs explained; school board OKs bus route changes, field trips

School projects, costs explained at hearing

The Brown County School Board of Trustees had a public hearing last month on additional appropriations that were required to complete projects at Helmsburg and Sprunica elementary schools.

The estimated cost for renovating the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at Helmsburg is $1.86 million. That also includes installing energy-efficient windows and lighting throughout the school. The same project will be done at Sprunica for a cost of $1.93 million.

Superintendent Laura Hammack said each project will be covered by a general obligation bond which the district took out last fall. It is not expected to change tax rates.

The estimated impact on the debt service fund is 0.049 cents per $100 of assessed value on an estimated $1.36 million of assessed value beginning in 2021, Hammack explained.

“As existing obligations mature, the anticipated increase to the debt service fund tax rate is expected to be zero dollars above the current. There will be no increase in the current rate,” she said.

The board was prepared to hear comments from the public after explaining the costs, but only one person was present and he did not have any questions.

The school unanimously board approved the projects. Board member Steve Miller Jr. was not present.

“Sprunica Elementary School and Helmsburg Elementary School are in serious need of a comprehensive HVAC renovation,” Hammack said.

The school board approved resolutions related to these projects and others in November. A $3,670,000 general obligation bond was issued to renovate and improve HVAC systems and replace windows at Helmsburg, Sprunica and Brown County Junior High schools.

The final project costs for Helmsburg and Sprunica ended up coming in over the initial estimates.

“We didn’t have enough capacity in this bond issuance to do the HES, SES, and BCJHS project without having an impact on the tax rate. Therefore, we made the decision to advertise again with just the HES and SES projects indicated,” Hammack said in an email last week.

Soft costs associated with the project — like bond counsel, the financial adviser and other fees — will total about $150,000 and will not be covered by the bond issuance.

“We were notified that the costs of materials related to HVAC have skyrocketed lately,” Hammack said.

“Unfortunately, the costs of the two projects (at Helmsburg and Sprunica) ended up coming in higher than we expected, and we had to readjust our plans.”

School board OKs route changes, field trips

The Brown County School Board of Trustees approved the following on Feb. 20:

  • Removing a bus route extension for Dallas Transport route 15, effective Jan. 31, for  $51.55.
  • Adding bus route extensions for Dallas Transport route 15, 8.4 miles round trip, $10.31 per mile, for a cost of $88.60 per day, effective Feb. 2.
  • Requests for junior high teacher Amy Oliver to go to the QFI University of Texas leadership program March 26-29 in Dearborn, Michigan; June 25-29, in Toronto, Canada; Oct. 1-4 in Chicago; Jan. 28, 2021 in New York City; and March 12-19, 2021 in Doha, Qatar.
  • Termination of a contracted bus route with Gayle Roberts as of Feb. 10. Roberts requested this termination.
  • Adding courses to the Brown County High School course guide: Advanced Accounting 4522; Computer Science III Cybersecurity Capstone 5253; Electronic Music 4202 and Technical Communication 1096.
  • Separating Helmsburg Elementary School teacher Natalie Van Zuiden at the end of 2019-2020 school year. This was not a termination.
  • Appointing BCHS master teacher Hannah Newlin, bachelor’s degree, Level E, $41,500, 10 years of experience, full-time with benefits, effective Aug. 3. This is a new position.
  • Appointing Brown County Junior High School mentor teacher Cynthia Stark, master’s degree, Level E, $49,000, 11 years of experience, full-time with benefits, effective Aug. 3. This is a new position.
  • Appointing Helmsburg Elementary School preschool paraprofessional Elizabeth Zeigler, $11 per hour, four days per week, 7.25 hours per day, part-time without benefits. This is a new position.