MCPS’s capital projects plan is back on the table

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Following a joint meeting between the Maury County School Board and the Maury County Budget Committee, the school district funding body gave initial approval to a $ 83 million capital project plan. dollars to fund new construction and improvements to public schools in Maury County.

Moved by Commissioner Craig Harris, the funds would be borrowed by the county government on the advice that $ 70 million would be used to build a new 2,000-student high school on the district’s Battle Creek campus on Mahlon Moore Road in Spring Hill, $ 9 million to go towards converting Spring Hill High School to an elementary school and $ 4 million to fund an additional gymnasium at the Santa Fe Unit School.

Although the county board is the school district’s funding body, the board cannot dictate how funds are spent by the school district.

Commissioner Jordan Shaw came up with a $ 65 million fundraising plan, but his proposal fell through without a second.

Commissioner Sue Stephenson also presented a $ 53 million school loan proposal, raising the proposal to $ 77 million, but the motion failed 2-5 with Stephenson and Shaw voting both approval votes.

Harris’ $ 83 million proposal initially failed to gain two-thirds approval from the budget committee, which voted 4-3, with Tommy Woalver, Michelle Haney, Gwynne Evans and Caig Harris voting for the plan.

The cost of borrowing is expected to increase

The motion was passed by the committee as it was made aware of the increase in interest rates, increasing the cost of borrowing for the local government.

Budget committee chairman Scott Sumners explained that the county bond agent said the county should budget a higher rate to prepare and stay conservative.

“He expects them to go up very soon,” Sumners told the Daily Herald.

Based on the proposed $ 83 million plan, Sumners said the rate could result in an additional cost of $ 16.6 million over the life of a 20-year bond.

“I just think the rates are good right now, and we need places in Spring Hill for high school. We’re going to have to make laptops anyway. We’ve got that done,” he said.

Property tax increase a possibility

With the rate hike, Maury County Deputy Director of Finance Shiphrah Cox said the loan is expected to raise the county’s property tax rate by 7.86%.

Homeowners of a home valued at $ 300,000 are expected to pay an additional $ 132 in property taxes each year.

Previous estimates put the rate up by about 6.38%, costing the same home $ 107 in additional taxes.

“This interest rate scenario is real,” Harris said. “Big money moves and interest rates are going to be very costly if we don’t act. This is something that could cost taxpayers dearly over a 20-year period. who is just trying to tell you. “

The proposal will be considered by the entire county committee at its August 16 meeting.

Prepare for “phenomenal growth”

With the conversion of Spring Hill High School being a sticking point for commissioners, previous similar proposals failed in front of the full board, prompting elected officials to hold Tuesday’s joint meeting with the school board.

Stephenson previously led a motion passed to reduce the initial capital request by $ 10 million, removing the conversion of SHHS to an elementary school from the plan.

During the joint meeting, MCPS Superintendent Michael Hickman called on boards of directors to take action as the district works to manage “phenomenal growth” in the northern end of the county.

During the meeting, the two bodies reviewed a revised list of the council’s five-year plan capital priorities, including renovations to Spring Hill High School, additional classrooms at Mt. Pleasant Elementary, which is estimated to cost $ 6 million, and the renovation of sports facilities in the district at a cost of $ 15 million.

The district has also set a goal of returning all fifth-grade classes to elementary schools.

The move would require more classroom space across the district.

Spring Hill High School exceeds capacity

At the start of the new school year last week, Hickman said SHHS had exceeded its capacity of 1,200 students by over 50 students.

“We have a problem that we have to solve, and we have to stop voting on the basis of ‘it’s not my idea so I’m going to say no’,” Hickman said. “As the superintendent, I don’t care where we go. We just need seats, and we need them now. Let’s find a solution here.”

Maury County Facilities Supernatant Eric Perryman stressed the need for more space for students across MCPS, which includes more than 20 campuses.

“We have to have places in high school,” Perryman said. “We’ve taken steps to try to make sure we mitigate what we’re seeing in the northern part of the county… There just aren’t enough seats in the district to handle it all.”

Perryman said the area surrounding Bear Creek Pike will also see a significant increase in student numbers in the years to come.

“Our growth is not just Spring Hill,” said Perryman. “Our goal was to come up with a capital plan … in a way that is most beneficial to the taxpayer. These kids need to have seats. The only place in the county where we are at the Comfortable right now is Spring Hill College, and they’re filling up right now. It’s not cheap, but if we don’t do something about government paralysis. “

During the meeting, Commissioner Kevin Markham considered the possibility of educating students in teams as a way to counter overcrowding.

“It might be silly, but it won’t be the first time someone has called me like that,” Markham said.

Commissioner Larry Brown, who has already spent 15 years as a director at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School and briefly served as the school district’s athletic director, called on both boards to move forward for the benefit of the more than 13,000 students in the school district.

“Children, children, this is who suffers from our lack of action,” Brown said. “If we don’t bite the bullet and spend the money, the problem will get worse. We are setting our children up for failure if we don’t make a decision tonight.”

Contact Mike Christen at mchristen@c-dh.net. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeChristenCDH and on Instagram @michaelmarco. Please consider supporting his work and that of other Daily Herald journalists by subscribing to the publication.


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