Wilfred Volesky: Review of options on elementary enrollment
At a recent school board meeting, the Mandan School Board decided to develop a committee to research the options on how to handle our elementary enrollment increase and the resulting elementary space issue. The school board’s expectation in creating this committee was to have the committee decide upon all of the options available to the district, determine the advantages and disadvantages of each option, and then make a recommendation to the school board regarding the best options.
If this committee is going to accomplish what the school board expects, the committee will need to be fairly large in size so that each option can be carefully studied. It would be helpful if the committee were comprised of members representing all geographic areas of our school district as well as representing all stakeholder groups in our district. Having this balance on the committee should allow for a thorough discussion so that all options can be considered.
Tim Rector, school board member, and Sheldon Wolf, a District Facilities Committee member, will co-chair the committee. We believe the committee will need about four meetings to complete their work. The first meeting is planned for Thursday, April 7, at 6:30 p.m. At this meeting the committee will be given all of the data concerning current enrollment trends, the lack of space in our elementary schools, and an update on the financial status of our building fund and sinking and interest fund. Once this information is discussed we plan to have the committee brainstorm to come up with all of the options that would help solve our enrollment and space issue. At the present time the District Facilities and Finance Committees have identified six options. The committee may develop more options that have not yet been considered.
Once all of the options have been determined we hope to divide the committee into the same number of subgroups as there are possible options. If we end up with six options we would like to have six subgroups, with about five members in each group. One committee member would be placed in each subgroup. We feel the subgroups would need to have one or possibly two meetings to determine all of the advantages and disadvantages of the option they are studying. Once their work is completed each subgroup would report to the full committee. The full committee would then prioritize all of the options studied and present this prioritized list to the school board at their board meeting on Monday, June 6.
As we consider the options to the elementary enrollment and space issues, one of the problems we will be confronted with is the status of our sinking and interest fund. In the spring of 2012 we will pay off all of the bonds that were levied for the Fort Lincoln Elementary School. With this occurring one would believe that the number of mills we levy for paying off the principle and interest on all of our bonds would decrease. Unfortunately, that is not the case. When the Middle School Bond Issue was approved it was decided that the Mandan School District would not pay for any principle on this bond until 2012, the same time the Fort Lincoln bonds were retired. For the past several years we have been paying just an interest payment on the Middle School bonds. We will begin making a principle and interest payment in the fall of 2012.
When we begin to make the principle and interest payment on all of our bonds, the number of mills necessary to make these payments will require about an eight mill increase for our sinking and interest fund based on the current value of a mill. This increase in mills will create some difficulty for the committee in finding a solution to the elementary enrollment and space issue.
As I mentioned above, the first meeting of the committee is on Thursday, April 7. We have begun calling some members in our community and requested they serve on this committee. However, if there is someone that has not been called and would like to serve on the committee please give me a call at 751-6509 and let me know. I am confident your input would be helpful to the committee as they begin their work in finding a solution to the elementary enrollment and space problem.