Why do we need this Millage Extension? Didn't we get enough money the first time?
The millage extension was part of the approved facilities plan developed in the 2015-16 school year. This prepared JNP to undertake the building of new facilities July 1, 2016. The 7.6 mills funded the high school, new elementary school (Lester), and 2 multi-purpose buildings for Taylor and Bayou Meto. It would not have been feasible, practical to replace every school at the same time and would have unfairly disrupted or displaced students due to construction. The debt service millage on its own will not generate enough construction funds to complete the approved facilities plan which will replace all schools with new facilities.
If we build these schools, will our school buildings, be among the
best in the State and how long will they last?
YES! These facilities will be modern school facilities comparable to the best in the state. A typical life cycle for a school is 50 – 60 years.
Don't we already have the highest millage in the state?
JNPSD does not have the highest millage in the state. In just Pulaski County, Jacksonville is 5th highest in the county & North Pulaski is only 11th highest in Pulaski County out of 15 districts. Jacksonville North Pulaski School District is effectively in the middle when you consider effective tax percentages. This information is on file with the Pulaski County Clerk's Office.
I have heard that that new high school is costing 100 million dollars.
Couldn't we build some less expensive and not ask for the Millage extension?
The high school does not cost $100 million. The cost is $74 million and will provide our students with an advanced education while preparing each of them for a bright future. The proposed millage extension was part of the original approved facilities plan developed in the 2015-16 school year
I have heard that we have to have this new Millage because the "high school mansion' cost so much - is this true?
No. The millage is not new, the proposed millage extension was part of the original approved facilities plan developed in the 2015-16 school year. It is an extension of the current millage rate and will not result in a higher rate of tax.
I have been told and have read on Facebook that we really only need elementary schools so why are we building this "high school mansion"?
This is simply not true. The federal judge cited in his ruling that it is prudent to replace the existing high school and middle school since those facilities are for every secondary school student in the district.
Why couldn't we build less expensive schools and get them all done now?
The construction market drives cost per square foot. The board approves the designs and specifications for new facilities. All contractors go through a sealed bid process, and the low bidders are typically awarded bids unless there is a special circumstance where the low bid is not the most productive for the district. School construction typically takes 1-2 years to complete per school.
Why does a Court outside of Jacksonville require us to build a certain number of schools?
The federal court in Little Rock presided by Judge Price Marshall is the authority supervising the desegregation case. Building all new facilities is part of fulfilling obligations inherited by JNPSD. Completion of all new schools will guarantee JNP unitary status by the federal court. This means JNP will not be under court supervision concerning school facilities.
I have heard that the schools are only being built in areas of the city where the wealthiest people live, why can't the rest of us get new schools?
Everyone will have new schools if the millage extension is approved by voters. All schools will be replaced with new facilities.
I have heard that the new Millage increase will raise our taxes by as much as 50% - is this true?
No. It is an extension of the current millage rate and will not result in a higher rate of tax.
I was told that the millage increase will all go to raising administrative salaries - is this true?
No. The millage is solely dedicated to construction & maintenance of new facilities as adopted by board resolution earlier this school year.
I have heard that the Millage extension is for 15 years - is this true?
No. The current debt would be paid off in 2042. The millage extension would extend the debt to begin to be paid off in 2049.
Why can't we just patch up our schools instead of building - wouldn't this save us money?
This is not an option. A federal court mandate requires all new facilities to be completed by the year 2026.
I have heard that the State of Arkansas will help pay for the new schools - is this true? Why can't the State pay for all the schools?
Yes and No. The state facilities partnership program provides that the state will pay a portion of costs if the project is approved and funded by the state. There is no provision is law that the state will pay all costs related to school construction. Based on the current state formula, the state will fund 47% of the allowable costs for new school construction.
How do we decide who gets to build our schools?
School boards use a process to determine who will be the architect and construction manager for the projects. The JNPSD Board completed this process in the 2015-16 school year. The process involves a “Request for Qualifications” process. The proposals are reviewed, and the top submissions are interviewed by the board. After the interviews are completed, the board selects an architect and construction manager for the building projects.
Why must this millage extension happen now? Can it not wait?
Legislative changes in the state facilities partnership funding program may change for the 2021-23 funding cycle. These changes may reduce the amount of state funding for Jacksonville based on a variety of factors adopted by the state facilities division. In order to maximize the state contribution in our facilities replacement plan, JNP’s application for state funding was moved to the 2019-21 funding cycle. After this cycle, the state may not contribute as much funding toward building new facilities. If we wait on extending the millage, then the extension would require more years than what is being asked for now.
During the extension period what will be approximate amount of money that will be raised from the millage?
What is the financing option if the millage extension does not pass and what will that cost our District? How many schools would the financing option build?
The financing option is called 2nd Lien bonds (similar to a second mortgage on a house). This option does not require voter approval since the debt would be paid over the same term of years; however, this will cause debt payments to substantially increase instead of remaining about the same with an approved extension. The funds generated with a higher debt payment is $46.8 million. The funds generated with a debt payment similar to what we have now is $38.3 million.
Planning for the worst-case scenario with construction costs must be taken into account. Using 2nd Lien bonds will pay for the middle school and next elementary school for the Pinewood-Dupree merger. We will not be able to construct the last two elementary schools to completion.
What are the considerations that must be given in future school construction costs? What is solely the school district’s responsibility to pay for?
Consideration is given to rising constructions costs. School construction costs typical increase every year 2.5% to 3% which includes architectural costs as well. Lester Elementary School construction costs $15.3 million; however, if the school was built four years later, the projected cost would be $17.4 million.
We must consider property value assessments in the planning for costs. If property assessments decrease, this reduces the amount of money available to make debt payments. The assumption has been made that property values will remain flat. If property values increase, this helps the school district with the ability to fund more of the local contribution in case state funding for school construction is reduced by the state. These are unknowns that are difficult to plan in the budget. Also, local contributions from our debt service fund are considered in planning for construction costs.
The state facilities division only pays a certain percentage of allowable costs. The current percentage is 47%. Future changes in state funding could reduce Jacksonville’s reimbursements from the state by 10% on future projects.
Other costs considerations, which are solely paid by the local school district (not state funds) are:
Furnishings, Equipment, Technology, PreK, Certain Student Programs, Demolition of Buildings, Asbestos Abatement of Buildings. These costs are difficult to predict as well, so we attempt to budget for anticipated cost increases over time.
Can the construction bonds be paid off early?
What percentage of the 48.3 mills is allocated for the school construction bonds? If that percentage brings in more revenue than the required annual bond payment, does the excess funds go towards reducing the outstanding bonds or does it go toward other school activities?
46% - State law says that excess debt service funds can be used for any other school purpose. Our primary purpose now is to transfer these funds to our building fund to make sure we have enough of a local contribution to account for any additional costs that are not funded by the state partnership program. JNP must fund the following at 100% local cost: Furnishings, Equipment, Technology, PreK, Certain Student Programs, Demolition of Buildings, and Asbestos Abatement of Buildings.
Currently, without the extension, does the 48.3 mills reduce to a smaller millage when the bonds are paid off? How about with the extension?
If there are no facility needs in the school district when the bonds are paid off, then the debt service millage ceases to be assessed. The millage rate would be reduced with or without an extension. This reduction is tied to the debt being paid off.
In 20 to 30 years, these new buildings are going to need renovations. Since all of the buildings are being built at the same time, it is logical that the renovations will also have to be done at the same time. Is there a contingency plan in place to help with those future costs?
Without any debt service millage, the district would be very limited on paying for any renovations for facilities. The contingency plan could be to develop a renovation plan within 5-10 years prior to the bond payoff to evaluate needs. If the school district had enough funds saved in the building fund at that time to fund renovations, then the plan could be executed quickly. If the funds in the building fund were not enough to implement the renovation plan, then an additional bond issue may need to be considered at that time.
Please consider supporting this millage extension for the sake of our students and our community. If you are interested in getting involved, or learning more, please contact us.
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