The Chico School Board called a $7 million bond election at its regular meeting Monday night.
The proposition includes security and lighting upgrades at all campuses, construction of an ag facility and a concession stand/restroom building, site upgrades at all campuses and transportation and technology upgrades.
The move came after almost two-and-a-half years of discussion and only passed by a slim margin, 4-3. Board members Mark Tate, Paul Cantrell, Pancho Redwine and Doug Bowyer voted in favor of it, and G.A. Buckner, Bill Hand and Lori Clark voted against it.
Buckner simply said he wouldn’t support a bond, while Hand said he wouldn’t support one “right now.”
“We’re operating in the red and with oil and gas going down …” he said.
Superintendent Mike Jones reminded the board that interest rates are at a historic low, but if the board disagreed on whether or not to call a bond, one option would be to go ahead and have the election to let the citizens decide.
“Sure enough, with a contraction in the oil patch, that’s something to be concerned about, too,” Jones said. “But one reason to call it is to let the citizens decide if they want it. That’s another consideration.”
The superintendent said it would add 11 pennies to the tax rate. That would mean a tax increase of $110 per year or $9.17 per month on a homestead valued at $100,000.
Homeowners age 65 and over who have applied for and received an exemption would not see an increase in their tax rate, unless they make improvements that increase the value of their home.
“If we vote against it, that’s just saying we’re going to keep depleting our fund balance,” said board member Mark Tate.
Paul Cantrell spoke up and said he had recently visited the ag project center, and “it needs to be dozed down.”
“It’s a shame we put our projects in there,” he said.
Several board members acknowledged that many of these issues have been discussed on multiple occasions, and some indicated that citizens have said they would like to see the various improvements made.
“We’ve hashed it out three or four times,” Cantrell said. “I think as a team of eight we’ve hashed it out, and we’ve come up with a feasible amount to do what we need to do for the kids.”
Bowyer made a motion to call the bond election, and Tate gave it a second.
The proposition includes the following:
SECURITY AND LIGHTING UPGRADES AT ALL CAMPUSES
Elementary school security upgrades include exterior cameras; interior cameras; corridor and classroom door key locks from the inside; electronic card access to exterior doors; front entry door access with speaker, camera and remote release; cross corridor/large space emergency door lockdown; and audio communication, speakers to the exterior.
Elementary school lighting upgrades include occupancy sensors and exterior lights. Canopies will also be added to the front sidewalk, gym entrance and rear entrance.
Middle school security upgrades include additional cameras; occupancy sensors; corridor/classroom door locks from inside, cross corridor/large space emergency door lockdown; electronic card access; front entry door access with speaker; and audio communication, speakers to the exterior.
There will also be improvements made to the parking lot lighting at the middle school, and the roof and all windowns will be replaced. The HVAC system at the middle school will also be upgraded.
High school security upgrades include additional cameras; cross corridor/large space emergency door lockdown, electronic card access to exterior doors; and front entry access with a speaker, camera remote release.
More exterior lighting will also be added at the high school.
The total for security and lighting upgrades is $1,626,885.
AG FACILITY AND CONCESSION STAND/RESTROOM BUILDING
This part of the proposition includes a new concession stand/restroom building at the baseball and softball fields, a tensile canopy over the existing bleachers and ramp access from the parking lot to the concession stand.
It also includes the construction of a new ag barn facility, and the land on which it will be built.
The total for the ag facility and concession stand/restroom building is $2,640,573.
SITE UPGRADES AT ALL CAMPUSES
The parent pick-up lane will be extended at the elementary school, and site drainage will be added to the south side of the middle school. A pedestrian path will also be built from the middle school to the ballfield grandstands.
At the high school, the softball field will be resurfaced.
The total for site upgrades is $395,519.
TRANSPORTATION AND TECHNOLOGY UPGRADES
“iPad and Chrome notebooks, those technologies will not go away,” Jones said. “We’re looking at how we can continue to pay for those things.”
These items total $2 million.
Voters will have the opportunity to support or reject the bond in the May 9 election. Superintendent Jones said two to three community meetings will be scheduled to explain the bond package and answer questions from voters.