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Archive for Tuesday, August 14, 1990

SECOND HIGH SCHOOL TO COST $903,000 TO OPERATE 1ST YEAR

August 14, 1990

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The Lawrence school board Monday night learned that it would cost about $903,000 to operate the district's proposed second high school in its first year.

According to estimates presented by administrators, the cost of operating and staffing the second high school would require a tax levy increase of about 2.98 mills in the school's first year of operation. Obviously, officials said, it's difficult to say how much those operating and staffing costs would increase or decrease from year to year.

The 2.98-mill increase, plus the estimated 10.4 mills the district would levy in 1993 to finance the bonds for a second high school, would mean a total increase of 13.38 mills in the school's first year of operation.

However, the average annual mill levy increase would be somewhat lower, about 12 mills a year, said Lawrence School Supt. Dan Neuenswander. That's because the size of the bond payment would vary from year to year, averaging out to an annual mill levy increase of 9.1 mills over 15 years to retire the bonds, he said.

THE LAWRENCE school district decided last month that a $31.8 million bond issue would be needed to construct the second high school and renovate Lawrence High School. The bond issue also would finance additions to two elementary schools.

Of that $31.8 million, officials have said, $23.5 million would be needed for construction of a second high school. The school board last night decided on a 15-year retirement schedule for the bonds.

Monday night was the first time the board was given estimated costs for operating a second high school. Those estimates indicate that an owner of an $80,000 home would have to pay $28.60 in additional property taxes in the high school's first year to finance its operation and staffing.

To finance the total bond issue, the owner of that $80,000 home would have to pay an average of $87.36 in additional property taxes each year for 15 years.

Neuenswander was quick to point out that increased staffing costs would be tied mostly to such employees as custodians, administrators, secretaries and counselors. He said the school district always staffs schools on a ratio of one teacher per every 21 students. Therefore, whether high school students were in two buildings or one, about the same number of teachers would be needed to meet enrollment demands.

NEUENSWANDER said district enrollment in grades seven through 12 will reach at least 4,685 students in 1996-97, which is 1,137 more students than were at those grades last year. He said those enrollment increases will mean additional costs to the district, whether or not a second high school is built.

Neuenswander said other alternatives for handling that increased enrollment would be to buy more mobile units or to change the LHS schedule to a double shift. In either case, he said, things such as maintenance, utilities and insurance would constitute the major added costs to the district.

Neuenswander said those costs were not included in the district's estimates of how much less it would cost to have just one high school. He said the $902,921 estimated cost difference is probably somewhat high.

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