By Cassandra Ivy, The Voice News - October 12, 2017
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For the past several weeks, readers may have noticed advertisements for public meetings at a variety of locations across the Norris School District to learn about the latest bond issue that will be put up for registered voters in the Norris School District starting on Monday, Oct. 23. Voters will have until 5 p.m. on Nov. 14 to mail in their two-part ballot.
Part A is $7.5 million for operations.
Part B is $2 million for an on-campus baseball field and tennis courts.
Norris has had success with passing bond issues through the years that have aided in making the campus and the district what they are today. If voters are thinking ahead, both parts of this one should also pass, which would allow necessary improvements to be made all at once instead of allowing costs to continue to escalate and also will help student safety.
While Norris superintendent Dr. John Skretta has acknowledged there is little in Part A of the bond issue that is glamorous, the importance is still there. The nuts and bolts of the bond will make the growing school districts’ buildings substantially more efficient and address aging and outdated infrastructure. New HVAC air handlers and system controls would make up $3.5 million of the bond. My youngest daughter’s elementary classroom had the air conditioning go out for several days at the beginning of this school year. Her teacher and the students coped, but it didn’t make for ideal learning conditions. And her classroom is not the only one that has experienced these types of issues.
Converting to LED lighting is the second largest cost at $700,000. Within three years, the district would recoup this much in energy savings compared to the current less efficient lights. Other items addressed include new security systems, reconfigured offices that also aid with student safety, erosion control with the sewer lagoon that serves all the campus, resurfacing and expanding parking lots to accommodate student population growth plus several other projects.
Safety is one of the forefront purposes of both parts to this requested bond. Last year, a Norris baseball player was involved in a rollover accident while traveling from practice off campus. A tennis player also was involved in an accident last season following her morning practice in Lincoln on her way to school. Adding these on-campus facilities for sports that have been offered for more than a decade only makes sense.
The proposed $9.5 million bond, which is broken into two parts, basically adds $40 a year in additional taxes onto a $100,000 property. Even with the two current bonds, which are for the newer middle and intermediate school buildings, the cost of educating Norris students is already amongst the lowest per pupil in the state at $10,418.98, which is currently sixth out of 246 districts behind only Bennington, Papillion-Lavista, Gretna, Elkhorn and Millard Public Schools.
None of us want to see taxes go up. But in some instances making an investment ahead is well worth the inevitable cost. So when you get your ballots later this month if you are in the school district, we encourage you to vote yes to both parts to keep Norris moving forward as one of the most progressive, efficient and successful districts in the state. And if you have any concerns or questions, we encourage you to take advantage of the meetings school district officials are offering, read the information on the district website, or contact Norris administration directly.
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