Letter to the editor – Julie and Steve Karber

GCCSD school bond birth and rebirth

To the editor,

Recent discussion with several people has raised questions about decisions to present a second bond issue that has had minimal change from the first format that was defeated.

We were somewhat late additions to the current committee of volunteers who feel strongly about the need for improved facilities for our district youth. This letter is our attempt to review the process that led to this proposal. Subsequent communications will address school financing, aspects of energy and centralization that allow more funds to be available for curriculum as well as facilities for extracurricular activities.

After the vote to reorganize the East Greene and Jefferson-Scranton districts into the Greene County Community School District, a long term planning committee was formed. Members included representatives from administration as well as individuals from Grand Junction, Jefferson, Rippey and Scranton.

After review of current facilities, recommendations from state education experts and several site visits to communities of similar size, a consensus was reached to centralize to two sites. The architectural and engineering firm Shive Hattery was retained and the plan was developed with input from that committee, then presented for the first vote.

After defeat of the bond issue, this same committee did two things. A survey was performed with the central message returning that inadequate information had been present for voters to make an informed decision. Shive Hattery was again retained to assess current facilities and develop plans for facility repairs and physical improvements necessary to extend use of these buildings. This was a walk through visual assessment. The age of the buildings including 50, 60 and two 100 year old buildings was apparent.

Major changes to heating and cooling, plumbing and electrical systems would be required in addition to converting three classrooms to two larger classrooms to provide optimal floor space (900 square feet versus many rooms of 500 square feet). Fixing American Disabilities Act deficiencies also would be necessary. The total estimated cost for the four buildings evaluated (administration, GJ building, Jefferson Middle School and Jefferson High School) is an astounding $26 million!

The initial plan was then reviewed, with reduction in improvements to the Middle School gymnasium and replacing the Elementary school office with a classroom, lowering the total dollars by $600,000. Physical plant and equipment levy (PPEL) money available reduced the total amount required to the current level of $19.4 million.

The Pay It Forward Committee is working diligently to make information available for voters to make an informed decision. Town hall meetings will be held at the Jefferson Middle School, the Grand Junction building, the Rippey library and the Scranton Community Center during the first two weeks in August. In addition we will be posting information on our web site as well as sending informational letters to our news outlets. Please consider all of the material you need to make a decision, then be part of the process and vote in September.

Steve and Julie Karber, Jefferson | Co-chairs, Pay It Forward Committee

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