Rutland residents to get letter on project
By JANE UTECHT, Staff Reporter
The Rutland School Board held a special meeting Monday night to review a letter they will be sending this week to all district residents regarding the proposed building project.|
The letter will include information on the three proposed facets of the project, information on the school's enrollment history, estimates on the tax increases (i.e., what it will cost residents), and a ballot and return envelope for a straw poll on the issue.
The board members hope they will have some feedback by the school open house/community meeting on Sept. 12, giving them a feel for which direction they should proceed.
Board President Billie Hoekman said, "We won't do anything [the district patrons] don't want us to do," but the board seems to feel a need, particularly for improving the kitchen/dining facility, which does not meet fire code for K-2 children.
Board member Brooke Albertson felt that point needed to be stressed with the district. The board also discussed crowded conditions in the school.
Rutland Superintendent Carl Fahrenwald said the district has been growing over the last eight years, and he projects the district will grow by about 15 students per year until they max out at 225 students in about 2018. The district's low point in enrollment was in 2005 with 110 students; enrollment this year is 155.
Looking at enrollment numbers, general fund trends, capital outlay numbers and special education data, Fahrenwald said that the project is feasible.
"It does pencil out hypothetically," he said. "With the momentum we have, it's not unreasonable. There's not a lot of extra money to be playing around with, but it's a future path that's possible."
Board member Ryan Olson said that if the Rutland district does not build, and in a few years the school district were to dissolve, the patrons would be reassigned to another district, where they might actually pay more in taxes because all other schools in the area have built. Sioux Valley to the north, Colman to the east and Chester to the south, for example, all have opt-outs or bond issues they are paying off.
Another point Olson made was the scale of cost concept.
If the district were to build K-2 next year, and add the grades 3-6 addition a few years later, the project could actually be more expensive than doing K-6 now, partly because construction costs go up about five percent a year, board member Terry Wicks said.
The letter was expected to be mailed the middle of this week; the community meeting will be Sept. 12.