Plans to improve and upgrade the seven campuses in the Newton Community School District for the next five to 10 fiscal years were presented during Monday night’s school board meeting. Details of the capital purchases and other updates were separated into two funding sources: Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) funds and Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) funds.
Also known as the local option sales and service tax, SAVE funds directly influence school infrastructure needs. According to the Iowa Department of Correction, moneys derived from this funding stream can be used for “construction, reconstruction, repair, demolition work, purchasing or remodeling of schoolhouses, stadiums, gyms, field houses and bus garages,” among other things.
Conversely, the funds collected from PPEL can be used for grounds improvements, construction or expansion of buildings, technology exceeding $500 per transaction, transportation equipment, recreational equipment, payments to municipalities and other related materials. PPEL moneys must follow Iowa Code and cannot be used for staff salaries, travel costs, supplies or printing costs.
Tim Bloom, director of business services at the school district, introduced the proposed SAVE and PPEL expenses plan lists to the board. Bloom said he had previously met with NCSD Maintenance Supervisor Jack Suttek, NCSD Transportation Supervisor Curt Roorda and the school district’s technology managers to comb over the facilities and identify the district’s infrastructure and tech needs.
Most expenditure items listed in the SAVE outlay — which would span from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2029 — consisted of general upkeep, energy efficiency items and quality of life changes for the campuses, including roof repairs, boiler/chiller work and updates to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems ranging from $50,000 to $1 million.
Suttek said the $1 million boiler/chiller project for the high school should immediately stand out. He explained 10 to 20 percent of the building is still using steam boiler heat, a large portion of which is its original system. The system attached to the steam boiler “feeds down into the shop areas,” the main gym and the surrounding locker rooms, which are still using steam heat.
“My last five years we’ve had to replace sections of pipe,” Suttek said. “Every year we have issues … If you’re getting 50 years out of a system, you’ve used it up.”
SAVE funds affecting infrastructure were not directly allocated to the newly built Berg Middle School, however. The district’s athletics department was allotted $500,000 for additional parking and $1 million for stadium turf in fiscal year 2020. In fiscal year 2022, approximately $400,000 of track improvements are planned.
Also of note is the $4 million demolition/replacement project involving the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School gym currently listed for fiscal year 2024. The district’s maintenance department also planned for new trucks and snow removal equipment varying between $50,000 and $70,000. The administration building planned for a $1 million property acquisition in fiscal year 2022.
Technology is perhaps the most dominating section of the proposed SAVE-funded capital improvements plan, including $150,000 a year for iPad purchases at Newton High School, $100,000 a year (excluding fiscal year 2023) for staff laptops and $200,000 per year for student Chromebooks. About $150,000 was set aside for an intercom system update planned for fiscal year 2020.
PPEL money is more consistently distributed amongst the seven NCSD campuses. From fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2024, all district elementary buildings are to be designated $7,000 per year for capital equipment purchases. WEST Academy will accept $4,000 per year. Likewise, Berg Middle School is to be allotted $15,000 the first year and receive a $5,000 increase every consecutive year, ending with $30,000 in fiscal year 2024.
Newton High School will maintain a steady flow of $55,000 per year, according to the outlay plan shared by Bloom at the school board meeting. District wide items include carpet/tile replacement, concrete/asphalt repair, gym floor resurfacing, energy efficiency, copier lease and roof maintenance projects ranging from $15,000 to $50,000. A proposed $25,000 per year has been budgeted for grounds equipment in the maintenance department.
Within the next few months, school board members will develop and hone down their preferred projects.
“This is your first (look) at the things you’ll be talking about all spring long through June,” NCSD Superintendent Bob Callaghan said. “When we get closer to June, then the board should kind of give us a list of priorities about what it is we feel we need to do as a district to continue to support our infrastructure.”
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or firstname.lastname@example.org