Tuesday, April 14, 2009
DALLAS -- The Dallas School Board may consider placing a levy on the November 2009 ballot to pay for school maintenance and improvements. It would address repairs that cannot be funded because of a projected $4 million budget shortfall for 2009-2010.
Tim Larson, chairman of the Facilities Committee for the district, presented the committee's recommendation at the School Board meeting April 13. After meeting in January and March, Larson said his group believes the district should move forward on a bond next November.
"Our capital improvements aren't going anywhere," Larson said. "We still need those improvements."
The DLR Group assessed the needs at each school and recommended the district invest $1,877,000 for improvements. Each school has a laundry list of needs including replacing asbestos floor tile at Lyle and Whitworth elementaries, adding parking at Oakdale Heights Elementary, replacing roofing at Dallas High School and improving the stadium at DHS.
"(It's about) keeping these buildings running and keeping the students safe," Larson said.
Superintendent Christy Perry said extensive work is also needed to fix school boilers and those assessments will cost money.
"It really takes spending money to know the ins and outs," Perry said. "It would be really easy in (these) tough economic times to lose sight of this."
However, School Board members were split on the decision.
Board member LuAnn Meyer said the community may not understand what dire straits the district is in at this time. She said she wants to start raising awareness as soon as possible.
"I think no matter what, we need to be asking for dollars in November," Meyer said.
Board Member Michael Blanchard said administrators should look more closely at capacity and whether purchasing land makes sense. Both Blanchard and Board Member Matt Posey said November may still be too early to ask for money from the community.
"(The need) doesn't go away -- we still need (improvements)," Posey said. "But it's a little early right now" because of the economy and the recent construction bond failure.
The group also discussed the need for math textbook adoption that was sidelined because of budget cuts.
The topics will be back on the agenda at the next school board meeting to further talk about how to take the board's message to the community.
The next meeting will be held April 27 at 6:30 p.m. in Bollman Auditorium at Dallas High School.