TAPS capital outlay budget plan tops $760K

By Per Peterson

Tracy Area High School Superintendent Chad Anderson presented the 2016-17 (FY17) capital outlay budget proposal at Monday night’s District #2904 school board meeting.
The total of all the requests, which will be vetted further in April, is $761,961.95. Under the proposal, remaining revenues that are used to pay for things like salaries and other expenditures such as busing, electricity and heat, add up to $609,270.05.
Anderson broke down the proposed budget into 10 separate categories, the main ones being district-wide, secondary school, elementary school, Long-Term-Facility Maintenance, or LTFM (money used for specific building maintenance), technology and athletics/activities.
“At the finance committee meeting, we talked about the state of the district, we talked about the general fund, about capital outlay requests, spending, staffing, things like that,” Anderson said.
Anderson said there are always things that need to be done at the schools. Just like in a home, things have to be replaced and/or upgraded in the schools.
Some highlights of the proposal that made the facilities committee’s cut:

Building and Grounds ($12,562)
$9,970 for 200 chairs at $38.95 apiece

Secondary School ($32,148)
• $3,063 for a Power Matic wood jointer
• $23,373 for FACS curriculum
• $3,000 for band instruments

Elementary School ($63,102)
• $52,784 for Elementary Language Arts curriculum (K-6)
• $4,500 for 75 noodle chairs

LTFM ($301,255)
• $150,000 for LED lights (TAES and TAHS / less if only the high school is done)
“My thought is we can’t leave the elementary school untouched,” board member Jay Fultz said. “Something has to be done there if we’re going to do the whole high school.
“Anderson concurred: “We definitely don’t want to leave them out; it’s a matter of do we do all the high school now and all the elementary next year, or do we do part of the high school now and part of the elementary next year, or do we do everything at once?”
Anderson said a final recommendation on the lighting will be made at next month’s meeting.
• $10,000 for insulation between classrooms
• $50,000 for women’s restroom at TAHS near gymnasium
Anderson said the restrooms at the high school are outdated to a certain extent, but certain infrastructure  upgrades are needed because of a “sewer-type” smell that emanates ruing the winter months, especially with high winds.
“We want to try an experiment with one bathroom — because none of us are sure if this will completely do it or not — but we want to do our best to renovate and make it look good,” he said. “We want to come in and jackhammer out the stools, the sinks, the pipes, because we’re assuming there are cracks in the cement, which is causing the smell to seep out. That’s the first phase.”
Anderson said the second phase would include new stools, new sinks, new faucets and new flooring.
“We want to start with one to see what we’re getting into.”
• $50,000 for Little Panther Den stucco repair
• $10,000 to jetter all sewer lines in both buildings
• $25,000 for elementary playground contribution

Technology ($168,476)
• $75,000 for computer purchase in 2020
“In a few years, we’re going to need to update the computers the students have,” Anderson said. “Who knows? In 2020, it could be that kids are comfortable with their infrastructure and what we have going with Schoology, they could be bringing their own computer. Maybe we’ll go with Google Chromebooks. We don’t know. At least we’re putting this money away so in four more years we’re ready to do what we need to do.”
• $28,440 for iPad Air 2 128GB at elementary school (60 at $474 each)
“They’re all working fine, but unfortunately, they can support all the new apps,” Anderson said. “The kindergarten and first greed use those apps a lot.”
Anderson said options for the old iPads include continue to use them for random Internet searches at the elementary school; sell them back to Apple; or sell them to parents and families.
“They’re not useless, they just won’t support all the apps we have,” said Anderson.
• Plus spending on miscellaneous software such as Schoology

District Library Area
•$3,000 each for elementary and secondary books (rotation) decreased by $2,000

Athletics/Activities ($22,500)
• $2,000 on reconditioning of football helmets and shoulder pads and $2,000 for new helmets and shoulder pads
• $3,900-$5,900 for a volleyball practice net system (cost varies depending on donations from the Booster Club and volleyball program)
• $10,500 for boys’ and girls’ basketball ($4,000 each) and baseball ($2,500) uniforms.
• $3,500 for weight room equipment
“We usually spend between $25,000 and $28,000 (on athletics) so it’s down a little bit,” Anderson said. “We always have to recondition helmets for safety reasons.”

• The final item was roof repairs at $100,000, which is funded through the Capital Operating Levy.

No action was taken on the proposal, which will be on next month’s agenda for final approval.

In other business Monday:
• Anderson, Brad Stoneberg and Jo Pyle led a discussion in two classrooms about the LED lighting project. The board was shown the difference between 5K lights set on 20 and 5K lights set on 30, the former being a little “softer” and which would result in a greater energy savings.
Anderson said the bid to install all new LED lights at TAHS would by $142,000 with an estimated Xcel Energy rebate of $38,850. The estimated payback from energy savings would be a little over five-and-a-half years.
It has yet to be decided if both or just one school will get new lighting right away. Long-Term Facilities Maintenance dollars wold be used to pay for the project, which does not include the either gymnasium.
• The school board recognized a drop in enrollment from 747 in March 2015, to 734 in March 2016 to 706 currently.
“A lot of it has to do with online courses, moving to other districts,” Anderson said. “It’s not moving to a neighboring district — ‘I’m not happy in Tracy, I’m moving to Slayton or Marshall,’ it’s bigger than that. The family is moving away, or because of life situations they’ve chosen online school. We need to start looking at ways we can meet the needs of some of those students.”
Anderson said it was his expectation that over the next 10 years, enrollment numbers would decline about 10 students per year, “but this year I wasn’t expecting it to be this big. We may have done our decline already for the next two or three years.”
• The board approved the 2016-2017 seniority list and approved to move ahead with the addition of the summer credit recovery program at the cost of $3,520.
• The board approved the following resignations: Morgan Benson, TAHS theater director; Deb Ludeman, District Registrar, effective July 1, 2017; and Jean Chappell, speech language pathologist, effective at the end of the 2016-17 school year.
Anderson said Chappell and her family are moving to Rochester, as her husband received a promotion and that she will be missed at TAPS.
“She’ll definitely will be missed, and finding a speech pathologist will be challenging,” he said.
• The board also approved the 2017-18 Tracy Area Public Schools calendar with 174 student days and 179 teacher days. The APL calendar includes a teacher workshop day on Sept. 11 and no break on April 27. Snow make-up days will be May 25, 29, 30 and 31.