September 2018 Editorial Winner

More than enough time
Mike McCormick, Tri-County Herald

When school patrons are provided information about a bond issue and given an estimated timeline of when it will be completed, they expect it to be correct.
They figure what they are being told about a bond proposal is accurate and have some degree of trust in the authorities that are trying to ensure them why they should make this investment.
In early 2017, the McLoud Board of Education voted to call a bond issue totaling more than $10 million.
The bond issue was approved in April of 2017 by more than 64 percent of those who voted. That showed school patrons believed in the project.
McLoud School Supt. Steve Stanley said in February of 2017 “it will not increase taxes above what taxpayers were paying in December of 2016.”
Guess what? It ended up having a tax increase because of a mistake by the bonding company in the bond schedule for a 2014 bond for construction of an agriculture building and a roughly $1 million lawsuit against the district was left off the tax rolls until 2017.
Stanley said the bond issue was for $10.6 million and the net proceeds will be about $8.4 million.
Later, in talking about the original site the Board was looking to construct the new building, Stanley had said, “We’re looking at opening up the new building possibly in the fall of 2018,” but added, “we’re not making any promises.”
The new school now is being constructed on a site right behind the McLoud High School softball field near the intersection of Seikel Street and Arena Road, Stanley noted in May of this year. The original site was on 77 acres the school district has leased purchased from the School Land Commission at the corner of Redskin Road and Arena Road.
The district paid $15,000 the first year for that land, and in five years that amount will increase, Stanley said.
After that, he said, it will increase in increments of every five years.
“But the utilities, earthwork and sewer were going to be astronomically high,” the superintendent explained.
“We still have the 77 acres for future uses,” Stanley noted.
Due to delays caused by changing sites and the architect making substantial design changes, Intermediate school students won’t move into the new building this school year.
“Now probably we will begin the second semester of the 2019-2020 school year in the new building,” he explained.
That would be in January 2020.
In early August, the city of McLoud shut down the project because plans for sewer lines and water drainage hadn’t been received by the city. Stanley believed it was the architect who hadn’t sent the plans.
Following a meeting involving officials from several different entities, Stanley learned it was a miscommunication between the architect and a consulting firm hired by the architect that was to send the plans to the city and hadn’t.
City Manager Buck Day said the architect had called him earlier this year and he advised the firm to contact Cardinal Engineering, the city’s engineering consultant, who never had been contacted and the city had never received the plans.
That was the reason for shutting down the project, Day said. He confirmed the plans were received, were forwarded to and approved by DEQ. The city has allowed construction to restart.
The superintendent claims he’s been assured that will not cause a further delay.
Still, it will be nearly three years from the time the bond issue was voted on before students will be able to use the new building.
Compare McLoud to other bond issues voted on by North Rock Creek in January of 2017 to build a new high school and Dale in February of that year to build a new high school and gymnasium. North Rock Creek will start the second semester in theirs.
Dale plans on doing the same, at least with the gym.
McLoud school patrons expect and deserve better and should demand it. Nearly three years is really inexcusable.

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