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B-E school options narrowed to three: Next they go to a community meeting in Evansville

The Brandon-Evansville School District wants to find out what the community thinks of three facilities options it is considering, and will seek public input at a June 17 meeting.

The development committee – made up of school board members, staff and administration – settled on the options at a work session last Wednesday, May 29.

At the community meeting, which will take place at 7 p.m. in the Evansville gymnasium, the public is invited to give feedback on the three options.

The only option where a school is located in both towns is Option A, which has Brandon housing pre-kindergarten through grade 5 classes and Evansville hosting grades 6-12.

The other two options are one-building models with all grades in the Brandon School. Portions of the Evansville School would be demolished in both options, but the ball fields would remain. Additionally, the district would look at ways the Evansville School could be used. The possibility was mentioned of a business or organization buying it and turning it into an auditorium. At this point, if the district brought Option C or E forward, it has no definitive plans for the Evansville building.

Here’s a brief look at each option:

OPTION A

  • Brandon PreK-grade 5 – $14.9 million (includes renovation, sitework and deferred maintenance)
  • Evansville grades 6-12 – $16.5 million (includes some demolition, renovation, new construction, sitework and deferred maintenance)
  • Optional gym addition – $5.1 million
  • Total – $31.4 million without gym; $36.5 million with gym

OPTION C

  • Brandon PreK-grade 12 – $33.3 million (includes renovation, new construction, sitework and deferred maintenance)
  • Evansville demolition – $702,087 (includes demolition)
  • Total – $34 million

OPTION E

  • Brandon PreK-grade 12 Value-Engineered – $24.9 million (includes renovation, new construction, sitework and deferred maintenance) Value-Engineered means corners were cut and costs were lowered.
  • Evansville – $654,000 (includes some demolition)
  • Optional gym, locker rooms and Chargers Kids Club addition – $5.3 million
  • Total – $25.6 million without gym; $31 million with gym

Each option, including conceptual drawings and details about how the space in the buildings could be used, is available on the Brandon-Evansville Chargers United website, www.bechargersunited.com.

Sparsity aid

A second source of funding from the state for the B-E School District is sparsity aid, a source of concern because the district could lose it depending on how and where the new school facilities are placed.

The formula for calculating sparsity aid is complicated, but the district has confirmed with local legislative representatives that if Option A were chosen, the school district would lose its sparsity aid. That amounts to roughly $159,000 yearly.

Sparsity aid, in essence, is determined by the size of the district and the school building’s location to neighboring districts of equal or similar size. For the B-E district, sparsity aid would be lost in Option A because the high school would be in Evansville, close to another high school in Ashby. If the high school were to remain in Brandon, where it currently is, the district would not lose its sparsity aid.  

The number of students in a district is also a factor when it comes to figuring out sparsity aid.

Net tax capacity

Matt Rantapaa from Baird Financial, the financial company used by the Brandon-Evansville School District, told school board members that the school could borrow up to $266 million based on a complicated formula that measures the value of property in the district.

“This is not what we are suggesting by any means, but the maximum amount you can borrow,” said Rantapaa.

During the school board work session, he explained tax levy, net tax capacity and tax impact.

Rantapaa said more than 100 formulas go into what constitutes the school district’s total tax levy, including referendum operating levy, capital project referendum, lease levy and referendum to issue general obligation debt, among others.

Net tax capacity is the market value of property in the school district multiplied by class rates, Rantapaa said, with most levies spread over the amount to determine the tax rate. In the B-E School District, the net tax capacity is $6.2 million.

That doesn’t mean that is the amount the district can afford, he said. While explaining the complicated formula, Rantapaa said the district could have a maximum debt levy of $266 million, meaning that is the maximum amount it could borrow as allowed by state statute.

One question that has arisen at past meetings is how many households would pay for a successful referendum.

Rantapaa said it’s clearer to show a composition, by property classification, of the district’s tax base.  

Residential homesteads make up 24.3 percent of the district’s tax base, while 40.7 percent is agriculture, 18 percent is seasonal/recreational, and about 17 percent is commercial/industrial, public utility, residential non-homestead and personal property.

If the district brings a referendum forward this fall, Baird will provide material for every tax parcel to be looked up to see what the exact tax impact would be, said Rantapaa.

He provided general tax impact information for the three options, which can be found on the Brandon-Evansville Chargers United website, www.bechargersunited.com.

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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