The following is from the Great Falls Public Schools Board meeting agenda, 11-12-18 page 62. We have some additional information and questions at the end.
Proposed District Office and Warehouse Complex Study/Design
On October 4, 2016, the elementary and high school bond elections were approved by the voters. As a part of the bond sale the district received a premium on the sale of the bonds. The district has also accrued interest on the bond funds that have not been expended for identified projects. Since the bond election, the District has identified additional facility needs that the bond premium and interest monies can fund. This proposal addresses three of those needs:
1. A relocation of the offices currently on the 2nd floor of the warehouse (School Food Service and Music/Art) in order to address ADA accessibility needs of their customers;
2. A relocation of the offices currently on the 2nd floor of the warehouse (School Food Service and Music/Art) in order to address safety egress issues; and
3. The relocation of a large piece of food packaging equipment that is used to package approximately 300,000 salads, sandwich combos and fresh fruit/vegetable servings annually. It is currently located at Longfellow. It is recommended to find a more suitable location for a variety of food service and warehouse efficiencies. An architectural study and resultant design would provide expertise in how to accomplish the objectives above in the most efficient and cost effective ways.
The Board is requested to take action to approve the study to include the dissemination, as per Montana Codes Annotated, of a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for architectural services to design a remodel and/or addition to the District Office Complex to address the needs above. The RFQ will be published in the Great Falls Tribune. The RFQ will be posted on the district website at http://www.gfps.k12.mt.us/content/facility-action.
The architectural study and work will be completed by the selected professional and will be paid with bond premium and interest proceeds. The Board will be asked to approve the resultant design, estimated construction costs and fund sources of the remodel and/or addition at a later date.”
During the meeting and discussion Superintendent Tammy Lacey responded to a question about the amount of the premium and accrued interest saying it was $7-$9 million.
Keep in mind that by Montana statute, bond proceeds to be spent must be specifically identified in the ballot language.
Here are some questions we are going to attempt to get answers to in the coming days and weeks:
Were the new projects outlined in this agenda item identified in the original bond ballot language? If not, is it legal or right to use proceeds from the bond to pay for the projects?
Was there any discussion by anyone in the Administration or on the school board about the possibility of finding a mechanism to return the windfall of $7-$9 million to local taxpayers? If not, why not?
Did Superintendent Lacey or any of the school board trustees know about the likelihood or possibility of a multi-million dollar bonus as a result of the bond interest and premium?
Shouldn’t we wait to see if the already identified and approved projects are on budget before we spend taxpayer money on new projects? Shouldn’t we demand some accounting on current projects first?
If any of our readers have any information that may be helpful in answering these questions please contact us ASAP. Thank you.