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Survey gauges spending threshold for B-E community

Members of the Brandon-Evansville solutions development committee look over potential options for grade configuration. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)

Of the estimated 20 people attending a Feb. 27 Brandon-Evansville School Board work session, more than half said they were willing to invest between $25 million and $30 million on a school building project based on the impact it would have on their property taxes.

The project, however, wasn't specified, as it was an exercise to see what community members would be inclined to spend.

The goal of the exercise was to see what the threshold for cost would be, not the type of project, according to Lori Christensen from ICS Consulting, Inc., the firm hired by the school district to help assess its facility issues and needs.

The newly-formed solutions development committee, made up of the full school board, district administrators and staff, also took part in the exercise. The majority of committee members were willing to spend at least $30 million for a school building project.

Christensen noted that if the district approves holding another referendum, a tax calculator will be available to determine the exact tax impact for each parcel of land. The numbers she presented last week were just rough estimates.

During the exercise, district residents and committee members were able to choose from six amounts they would be willing to spend based on the monthly tax impact. Charts with estimated tax impact were provided.

Those taking part in the exercise were given two red sticky dots that they placed on their top two choices — $15 million, $20 million, $25 million, $30 million and $40 million, or they could choose to not do anything and spend zero dollars.

Here is a breakdown of what each group chose:

Community

• $15 million — 4

• $20 million — 4

• $25 million — 12

• $30 million — 12

• $40 million — 4

Committee

• $15 million — 0

• $20 million — 1

• $25 million — 4

• $30 million — 9

• $40 million — 6

The entire community will have a chance to participate in the exercise via a survey that is currently being worked on, Christensen said.

Superintendent Don Peschel said the district would like to have more feedback. Christensen said this was just the start and that ICS will continue to talk about what the tax impact would be depending on the scope of the project.

Who goes where

Christensen also conducted an exercise in how grades should be configured in the district. Currently, pre-kindergarten through grade 3 and grades 9-12 attend school in Brandon, while students in grades 4-8 go to Evansville. No committee members and only one community member favored keeping the status quo.

The results of the six options are as follows:

Community

• Existing grade configuration — 1

• PreK-12 in Brandon — 7

• PreK-12 in Evansville — 0

• PreK-5 in Brandon, 6-12 in Evansville — 13

• PreK-5 in Evansville, 6-12 in Brandon — 13

• PreK-12 in new building — 6

Committee

• Existing grade configuration — 0

• PreK-12 in Brandon — 6

• PreK-12 in Evansville — 1

• PreK-5 in Brandon, 6-12 in Evansville — 7

• PreK-5 in Evansville, 6-12 in Brandon — 0

• PreK-12 in new building — 6

After the exercise was complete, Christensen thanked those who participated, saying that it was good information and helpful for when they start to look at options. Dedicated community input meetings will be held next month, she said, at dates to be determined.

As of now, two committee work sessions are planned — Monday, March 11 at 5:30 p.m. in Evansville, and Monday, March 18 at 6 p.m. in Brandon. A walk-through of the Brandon School is scheduled for the March 18 meeting. A tour of the Evansville school was done Feb. 11.

All presentations from the work sessions are posted on the website www.bechargersunited.com, along with all information regarding the process.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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