NAFCS to bond more than $5.5 million for facility improvements

·4 min read

Sep. 14—FLOYD COUNTY — Plans for upcoming facility renovations in the next year were among the items addressed at Monday's New Albany-Floyd County school board meeting.

Monday's meeting included public hearings on the 2022 budget and 2022 capital projects.

Following a hearing, the board also unanimously approved resolutions to move forward with a general obligation bond to fund more than $5.5 million in renovations at schools across the district.

The planned 2022 budget includes a total of $144 million, including $78 million in the education fund and $41 million in the operations fund, according to Chris Street, chief financial officer for NAFCS.

The general obligation bond would include $5,575,000 in funding for projects. The board will vote for the final bond resolution at its October meeting.

One of the major projects that could be funded with the general obligation bond is a pool renovation at either Scribner Middle School or New Albany High School. The renovation is projected to cost $3.5 million to $4 million.

Street listed a number of other possible projects, including the replacement of technology for an estimated less than $1 million and LED lighting at a number of schools across the district for an estimated $3 million.

The bond could also support some smaller projects at schools across the district that are typically covered by the operations fund, including the replacement of boilers and chillers. This would involved an estimated $100,000 to $500,000 per project.

Some of the major renovations discussed include $3 million in HVAC repairs at Fairmont Elementary School in New Albany, but the district hopes to use federal COVID-19 relief funding to fund the project, Street noted.

"The great thing if we do that with the federal funds is that's a 20-year savings of payback there when you replace the HVAC," he said.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

—One of the action items at Monday's meeting included the approval of extra sick days for fully vaccinated NAFCS employees who test positive for COVID-19 This will allow them to receive 10 sick days if they test positive.

Board members Lee Ann Wiseheart and Rebecca Gardenour were the only board members to vote against the item. Both said they didn't approve of the differentiation between vaccinated and unvaccinated employees.

—The board also unanimously approved incentives for substitute bus drivers in the district to help with staffing shortages. The incentives will include $1,200 to reimburse the cost of training and licenses for new bus drivers, as well as a $500 sign-on bonus for bus drivers who are already trained.

—Another item discussed at Monday's meeting was proposed changes to the board's public participation policy, a move following a chaotic board meeting last month. The August board meeting featured a large crowd of people protesting mask policies, including some attendees who repeatedly interrupted the meeting, causing the board to go into recess.

Under the revised policy, attendees must sign up for public comment online by Friday at 5 p.m. before the Monday board meetings, and the public comment portion of the meeting is limited to 45 minutes.

The revised policy does not allow attendees to yield their time to other speakers. Attendees cannot bring any item that can be used as a weapon, and the only signs allowed should be made of paper and cannot block the view of other attendees.

The policy would also prohibit comments that are "repetitive and harassing."

The revised policy was presented for a first reading, and the board did not take action during the meeting.

Street said issues such as supply chain and labor shortages could push back certain projects, so the timeline of the projects could change.

Another facility improvement outlined in the capital projects hearing is the $550,000 remodel of the Floyd Central High School pool area, which has remained unused for about 12 years. The area needs to be repurposed, Street said.

Looking at the 2022 budget, Street noted that the district is facing an increase in the education fund of about 4.3% per student. The biggest portion of the education fund goes toward funding instruction at 59% for regular programs and 14% for special programs.

The advertised tax rate for 2022 is $1.3 with a projected actual tax rate of $1.05. In 2021, the advertised rate was $1.33 and the actual rate was $1.02.

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