Julie Rupp currently has two children going to school in Holcomb. A third graduated in the spring.
At the second and final public information meeting for Holcomb Public Schools’ $13 million bond issue on Thursday night, Rupp said she doesn’t know how she will vote.
“I think there’s a lot of good things in (the proposal),” Rupp said. “So I haven’t decided but I’m considering both sides.”
Holcomb USD 363 has proposed a $14.5 million construction project that would affect all of the district’s buildings.
Last month the Holcomb USD 363 Board of Education approved a resolution calling for a $13 million bond issue to help pay for the $14.5 million project. The election is Nov. 17.
The remaining $1.5 million would come from the district’s capital outlay fund.
If approved, the bonds would go toward building a new activity center at Holcomb High School with a 2000-seat gymnasium, indoor track, locker rooms, and restrooms and concessions area. Secure building entrances and new security cameras would be installed in all buildings in the district.
Construction at the high school would likely start in late summer 2016, and be finished by the 2017 school year.
The proposed gym at Holcomb High would be built on the south side between the school and the football field where a parking lot exists, and lots on the west side would be expanded.
The project also includes a proposed 4,300 square-foot wrestling room that would double as a tornado shelter capable of holding 860 people, with concrete walls and roof. All of the buildings in the district would get similar concrete storm shelters.
The bond proposal calls for a net increase in property taxes to be levied by the school district of 2.15 mills, derived from a debt service mill increase of 6.15 mills and a capital outlay mill decrease of 4 mills.
According to the district, the mill increase would equate to $24.73 annual increase in property taxes for a home with an assessed valuation of $100,000, a $53.75 increase for commercial property valued at $100,000 and a $17.54 increase for 160 acres of irrigated agricultural property.
Around 30 people showed up to the meeting Thursday night.
Sean Baker, who will soon have a child attending district schools, said he likes the bond issue in general but wished it were less expensive. He said the $1.4 million walking track in the proposed activity center seems like an unnecessary expense.
Bernie Reetz, a Holcomb resident, asked if people who live in the Holcomb school district but do not own property should get to vote.
“My concern is that the one who doesn’t own property gets to vote, too,” Reetz said. “There are more of those than there are homeowners. ”
USD 363 Board President Matt Jones said the vote includes anyone inside the district’s boundaries, which includes Holcomb and outlying areas.
Superintendent Jean Rush said tenants’ rent likely includes the property tax paid by landlords.
Later in the meeting, Baker said he was new to the district and asked if students living outside the district boundaries are allowed to attend school there.
Jones said the district has a transfer policy.
“Why is it that we’re paying for these additions to schools to let people that aren’t going to have to pay for it come into the school?” Baker said. “They’re basically getting to go to a free, new gym.”
Holcomb High School Principal Rob Schneeberger explained that transfer students’ parents wouldn’t pay for the bond issue but most likely come from Garden City, and those taxpayers pay for Garden City schools’ bond issues when they arise.
Advance voting for the Holcomb bond issue started Wednesday and runs through Nov. 16 at the Finney County Clerk’s office, 311 N. Ninth St., Garden City. The election is Nov. 17 at the Holcomb Recreation building, 106 Wiley St.
Visit usd363.com and click on “Proposed Building Project” to learn more about the bond issue. The page includes documents about the project, its finances, a tax calculator and a newly-added list of frequently asked questions.