Building Questions & Answers

****Updated July 11, 2018****

Questions/answers on this page are arranged in no particular order, and are largely arranged as received. Tied to the note above, some of the answers related to timelines and costs may be changing as we move forward.

 Question   Response 
 1. What is the Board's current direction regarding the 10-year HLS surveys and any repair or construction? The Board has made decisions in the last few months to: 

1. Move forward with repairs/renovations to the Primary and Intermediate buildings as per the 10-year HLS surveys. The work is expected to be completed summer 2018, but some work may spill over into winter break 2018.

2. Move toward a public referendum on building a new high school in Minonk and an "addition" which is largely a new building with retention of the gymnasium complex at the middle school in Wenona. The referendum is currently expected to be placed on the November 2018 ballot.
2. What is the Board's timeline for building design planning and referendum, as well as any building construction project which might follow? The building design team has been meeting since April 26. The building design footprint has been completed. There are still several steps necessary in order to meet timelines to get is placed on the November 2018 ballot.

If the referendum is placed and is successful, any building project which would follow would likely take two to three years after the referendum to fully complete, especially considering this is a planing two-tier project.
3. Who comprises the building design team?As currently constituted, the building design team is comprised of the following:

Representation from Farnsworth as lead designers on the project: John Bishop, David Leggans

Representation from Cordogan Clark as Construction Manager on the project: Rick Krischel

Board members: Scott Hillenburg, Kimberly McKay

Administration: Dr. Daniel L Oakley, Mr. William Lapp, Mr. Nate Lorton

District staff: Mr. Rusty Russell, Mrs. Cindy Koudelka

Students: Garrett Piase

Parents/Community: Hollie Kearfott, Ray Hudson, Daniel Breckenridge, Christie Ruestman, Jerry Faw
4. At what stage is the design process?As of this writing, the Building Design Team and the Board have moved a footprint design to the Construction Manager for costing purposes. This will be returned to the Building Design Team at the end of July for the next steps.

The district is also beginning work with Stifel, a bond underwriter, to have ballot language written for the project. In order for the ballot item to appear on the November 2018 ballot, the referendum language must be completed, approved by the Board, and delivered to the four county clerks no later then August 25, 2018.
5. Can I attend building design team meetings?    All building design team meetings are open to the public. Meetings are currently slated to be held in the high school library, on a schedule to be determined by the team.
6. Who will pay for any repair or construction?    There is only available option for the higher dollar projects the district will be doing, whether repair or replacement.

1. The district taxpayers will be responsible for the cost of the work to be done in its totality.

2. With Woodford County facilities sales tax dollars ready to flow soon, these dollars can be used to pay for the work or for bonds sold to pay for the work, although the Board hasn't specifically decided exactly how to use these dollars.

It is important to note the County Facilities Sales Tax, if approved in each county in which the district resides, could be used to help offset the cost of these projects, as the CFST can only be used for building repair or construction. Woodford and Livingston counties both have this in place at this time.

7. What would the cost of a new building be? That is not known at 100% certainy at this time. Costing will done as the design team works on the building designs. There are also consideration regarding what to do with the old buildings which have to be taken into consideration.

The Board has a current budget of $29,000,000 which the Building Design Team is addressing.

8. How will the taxpayers be able to afford this?The Illinois State Board of Education has directed the Fieldcrest Board of Education to affect repairs to the buildings as noted in the 10-year HLS surveys, or to do something which offsets the need to make those repairs in part or in whole. While no one wants to pay more taxes, the fact remains that the Board must act in regard to this direction by ISBE.

The Board currently considers building new construction for the HS and MS as a cost-conscious approach to spending large amounts of dollars on buildings. It is a considered position which compares the current estimates of repair costs to initial estimates on building new, and finding the difference to be close enough, as well as the concerns of future costs on old buildings, to move toward new construction instead of extensively repairing old.

The "how" question is one which the Board cannot answer for either individuals or communities.

9. There is an estimate that the valves at the Middle School can be currently fixed at a cost of less than $50,000. Why are we not doing this?

The cost of repairing the valves at the Middle School is only one small part of the issues indicated on the 10-year HLS survey for the MS. The total estimated costs for the MS are over $10,000,000. The primary question is whether the Board will choose to repair or construct new. Until that question is settled, such small but yet not so small projects which are not immediate safety concerns will wait for the decision to be made.

10. How can the Board justify spending millions of dollars and not getting an independent second opinion on structural repairs of the current buildings?

The Board actually has four opinions now on the serious concerns with both the MS and HS. Farnsworth has done two surveys: one in 2012 and one in 2016-17 (the 10-year HLS survey). Ameresco did a building efficiency study in 2012 which backs up serious repairs needed. And Cordogan Clark did a study on the Wenona building which indicates a need for high-dollar repair work in 2018.

11. If a referendum fails in November 2018 how do we meet the December 31 2018 deadline for repairs on the current buildings?It's a question without a good answer. We believe the ROE, the inspection and enforcement arm of ISBE, will work with us on time frames as long as anything under which "kids will get hurt" are cared for and the district is making serious strides toward caring for the issues at hand, but that will require time and consultation with the ROE as any process rolls along, including a referendum in November 2018.

If this were to occur, the Board has several options to discuss, but is currently focused on getting the building design project to referendum stage.

12. What would the increase in annual real estate taxes be for a homeowner with a home assessed at $100,000 (EAV $33,333) if a) a new building was built; or b) if the buildings were repaired?

There are several pieces of the puzzle missing to answer that question, including the amount to be bonded, the interest rate, district EAV, TIF zones statuses, and the number of years to repay the bonds, to name a few. However, to give a rough estimate based on a 20-year payback of $29,000,000 in bonds at today's interest rates, the annual increase in property taxes on a house valued at $100,000 (EAV $33,333) is estimated at $349 by Stifel. A link to that estimate is here. An updated estimate will be delivered with the referendum ballot language. (Note: this is an estimate only, considered at the bond rates prominent at the time of deliverance, based on the known district EAV at that time. Changes in individual property EAV will also affect individual property tax rates.)

Dan Oakley,
Jul 11, 2018, 6:21 AM