At a recent special board meeting, the Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose (BHM) School Board announced their decision to place a bond question on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.
This decision came after months and months of research and discussions with staff and district administrators.
The proposed $33 million bond has a variety of projects that touch every school in the district. The number one project in the bond is the improvements to safety and security in the schools. Discovery, Hanover and Tatanka Elementary Schools would have the entryway to the school remodeled. Parents and the public who visit the school would have to enter through the office and check-in before making their way to any part of the building. Buildings around the district would also see additions and improvements to indoor and outdoor security cameras. Schools such as the high school and Northwinds Elementary would also see improvements made to their school intercom systems.
The demand for technology is greater and greater each year. More computers are needed and upgrades need to be made. Infrastructure, servers, switches, and routers are beginning to show their age as more and more devices are accessing the system since students are being encouraged to “bring their own devices” to school. Funds for technology would help make necessary upgrades and replacements district-wide while keeping up with the pace of technology.
Another major project within the bond funding is deferred maintenance. Deferred maintenance is composed of projects that are postponed by the district because the appropriate funding is not available. Over the years, these projects add up and eventually need to be addressed. Some of the deferred maintenance projects district-wide include roof replacements (seven out of nine schools); HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) upgrades; parking lot and sidewalk repairs and replacements; floor, window and door upgrades; outdoor equipment replacement; and mechanical system upgrades.
There are also needs for some building capacity upgrades. Buffalo High School (BHS) is in need of more classroom and physical education space. One large classroom at BHS has been identified that could be remodeled into multiple classrooms. Space would be added on the northeast corner of the Performing Arts Center that would serve as a multi-purpose fine arts classroom. The high school would also see an addition of gymnasium space on the north end of the school by the current gymnasium and activity center. Tatanka Elementary is also in need of additional classroom space. They would see four additional classroom spaces, music space, restrooms, storage and a gymnasium added onto the north end of the school.
Annually, activity venues get a few tweaks here and there, but any major improvements are delayed due to high costs and budget constraints. The pool, located at the middle school, is in need of a new water filtration system, HVAC improvements, family locker rooms, updates to the existing locker rooms (flooring, shower tile, fixtures and lockers), and storage. An addition to the outside of the pool area (southwest corner of the middle school) would provide better public access to the pool area.
Other activity site and facility upgrades at BHS would include adding a track and two multi-purpose playing fields (one field would be a synthetic playing field and the other would be sand-peat), relocating three softball fields to the west end of the school (currently a practice field), making improvements to two baseball fields, and grading and improving irrigation to all the field spaces at the high school and also the fields located at the middle school. The addition and improvements of these spaces would help alleviate the current overcrowded, overused fields at both schools.
Supt. Thielman says that the district is taking its direction on these district-wide improvements from the community. “This past winter, we contracted the Morris Leatherman Company to conduct a community-wide survey,” comments Thielman. “Their results revealed that the community was very positive in their responses in regards to supporting facility and technology upgrades through a bond referendum. Over the last several months, the board has been doing their homework and researching, in great detail, the needs of the district. They believe this is the right time to put the decision in front of the voters.”
The $33 million bond for facilities and technology would have an estimated tax impact of about $88 per year on a $200,000 home (that’s just over $7 per month). If approved, the funding would be spent over a period of about five years.
Voting takes place Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. Since it is a general election, voters will vote at their regular voting precincts. More detailed information will be mailed out to all district residents in the coming months via the district’s Insider newsletter. Updated information is also on the district’s website at www.bhmschools.org and Facebook page.
-Compiled by Aaron Brom