Schools in Holcomb USD 363 soon will see additional security measures, new storm shelters, as well as maintenance needs addressed after one of two school bond issues was was passed by Holcomb residents on Tuesday.
Holcomb USD 363 bond issue question No. 1 passed by a 286-172 vote and includes funding for a collection of different projects at Wiley Elementary School, Holcomb Elementary School, Holcomb Middle School and Holcomb High School that would total $4,036,270 for facility upgrades and raise the district's mill levy by 3.15 mills, costing the owner of a $150,000 home an additional $54.34 a year in property taxes while the owner of a $200,000 home will pay an additional $73.45 a year.
The projects include security camera additions at Wiley, as well as a remodel of the security office totaling $135,000. Also included is a remodel of the security office at Holcomb Elementary School, HVAC upgrades to the school's southern wing, and storm shelter additions all estimated to total $1.27 million.
The middle school's upgrades would include a remodel of the security office and HVAC digital control upgrades to an antiquated system — all expected to cost about $58,000.
Upgrades at the high school would include additional security cameras, HVAC upgrades, a storm shelter and wrestling room, and a new security office for a total of $2,240,000.
“I want to thank you community, the people that helped and those that really had a vision on where they want to take the district and what the needs are…” Jean Rush, USD 363 superintendent, said late Tuesday night. “…We’re thankful for the support of the community and seeing the need for the safety and the security and the few other little things that are on there like the HVAC, plumbing and ADA things. I think it really provides a need with the security and the camera systems.”
Rush is excited to see the security cameras being added to the district.
“That safety and security, you just can’t ignore it in today’s environment, so I think that’s what excites me the most,” she said. “They (voters) saw the need and were willing to support that, so I think that’s the most exciting thing about it.”
Bond issue question No. 2 failed by a 249-207 vote. It included a proposed 14,500-square-foot, stand-alone locker room facility that would have been located southeast of the high school and northeast of the football field. That project was estimated to cost $3,461,400.
The locker room facility would have include a concession stand, restrooms and a large room that could be used for various activities, such as classes, community events, banquets and sports practices if there is inclement weather.
Rush said previously there was a need for additional locker room space for both high school and middle school sports, and the facility would have addressed that and other needs.
“The needs don’t go away… The needs still exist, so the board is going to have to do something. It’ll probably be back to the drawing board,” she said. “It was a close vote.”
Matt Jones, USD 363 board president, who was re-elected Tuesday, said he was happy to see one of the bond issues pass. He added that he thinks separating the district’s needs into two bond issues may have helped voters see the need and give them options.
“In retrospect, looking back two years ago, we probably should have done the same thing,” he said, referencing a November 2015 ballot issue that included a proposed new gymnasium and several of the items included in the newest ballot question. That was a $14.5 million project. Voters ultimately rejected it by a 187-105 vote. “Obviously, we would wish that both bond issues would’ve passed… You just feel fortunate that the safety and security end of it passed, so we can keep our kids and staff safe in some instances, as well as the addition of storm shelters.”
Rush said the USD 363 Board of Education likely will start discussing interest rates and other details of the bond issue at Monday's board meeting.
Contact Josh Harbour at firstname.lastname@example.org