Construction updates - Maintain, Improve, Invest - North Branch Area Public Schools

Why add on to the Ed Center?

Why add on to the Ed Center?
By Deb Henton

In early May I went before the school board to talk about how to address a potential space shortage at the North Branch Area Education Center. Though we have enough room to make the improvements approved in the May 23, 2017 referendum, the site will be very tight and leave absolutely no room for growth.

With the City of North Branch adding over 700 housing units across the city in coming years, failing to plan for that growth would be foolish. As I told the school board, there are three ways the school district can address this challenge.

1. Do nothing. While this solution wouldn’t cost anything now, the school district could be forced to ask taxpayers for more construction funds to expand the Ed Center down the road as a result of a failure to plan for this eventuality. 

2. Lease space for district office staff off site. In this way the Ed Center could be completely dedicated to providing student spaces. However, leasing space is expensive, and the school district would have to raise taxes through a “lease levy” to pay for leased space. 

3. Use existing construction dollars to expand the Ed Center project to include an addition. This can be accomplished because the school district is doing very well in the bid process and expects to have funds left over when priority referendum projects are complete. Because existing constructions funds can be used, there would be no additional tax increase to the community. As no space would be leased in this scenario, it would not involve a lease levy and the tax increase that comes with that.

The school board wisely chose the third option, as it is the most fiscally responsible course of action in all respects. It involves no additional tax increase, protects taxpayers in the future, and positions the school district responsibly for coming growth.

Contrary to some reporting, no decisions have been made regarding the use of the proposed addition. We have asked for drawings for both students space and district office space (including Central Printing Services, front office staff, accounting, the Department of Teaching and Learning, Community Education, and district administration).  As has always been the school board’s practice, the final decision will be based on what is the most prudent and efficient solution both for the future of education at NBAPS and taxpayers.

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