Red Rock Central school board approves November referendum
Reduced operating levy to offset bond request for a new school building
On July 22, the Red Rock Central Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution to place two questions on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. The first would reduce the district’s voter approved operating levy. The second would authorize the district to sell bonds to construct a new school, replacing the old, outdated and inaccessible facilities.
“We are excited to finally get to this point in the process,” said Bill Rogotzke, chairperson of the Red Rock Central School Board. “We have spent countless hours over the past several years assessing our facilities, gathering community feedback and creating what we believe is the best plan for our future. Students and the entire community will benefit for many years, and our plan minimizes the impact to taxpayers.”
Question 1 would ask voters to consider a reduction of the current operating levy from $1,117 per student to $700 per student. Question 2 would ask voters to consider construction of a new preK-12 school to replace the existing facility. Residential property tax payers on a $75,000 home would see a tax increase of $6 per year.
Why replace the school?
“The oldest part of our building was constructed before World War I,” said Todd Lee, superintendent. “Our schools do not meet ADA codes, safety and security is an issue, and a renovated building would not be designed to deliver education for the way kids learn today.”
A community task force recommended against an option that would renovate the existing school, which also has electrical and plumbing systems beyond their service life, and requires extensive tuckpointing and other exterior work.
Board and administrators say current programming may be maintained at a level of $700 per pupil because of cost savings from closing the Jeffers School and increasing enrollment, which translates to increased state funding.
“Community members are rightly concerned about our schools maintaining the opportunities we are providing to kids,” said Todd Lee, superintendent. “We are confident that we can do that with this plan. We have intentionally built up our fund balance to cover unanticipated expenses, such as those related to distance learning.”
The new facility would address ADA needs; eliminate instruction in hallways and the cafeteria; increase teaching space and community access to gymnasiums; create secure entrances with checkpoints and cameras; and create a space for student collaboration and project-based learning.
What is the impact to taxpayers?
Reducing the operating levy would reduce property taxes on a $75,000 (average value) home (-$82 a year). For that same home, voter approval of a $42.1 million construction bond, coupled with the lower operating levy, would result in a net annual property tax increase of $6 a year, or $0.50 per month. The net increase to a $50,000 commercial property would be $91 per year. The net increase to homestead agriculture property would be $2.19 per acre valued at $5,000.
The tax impact on agricultural land would be lessened by the state’s Ag to School Property Tax relief bill, which will reduce property taxes paid on agricultural land for school improvements by 55 percent in 2021, 60 percent in 2022 and 70 percent for taxes payable in 2023 and beyond.
About the process
Since 2017, Red Rock Central Schools worked to develop a long-range facility plan. A community-based task force, made up of business leaders, parents and community members was formed in March of 2019. Throughout the process, the board, administrators and task force members used the Academic Mission and Facilities Vision as their guiding principles. The process included a community survey this spring. A majority of residents who responded to the survey said they would support a new operating levy - reduced from its current level - and the construction of a new K-12 school building.
More information about the referendum will be shared via direct mail, social media, traditional media, by email and on the district’s website at redrockcentral.org.