Dani Trimble, Superintendent
Special Election – TUESDAY, April 3
One of our very important civic duties is participation the election process. We all have a vested interest in decisions that affect our school and community, and while we may not always agree on the best course of action, we need to come together and participate in the process. The Alburnett School Board has asked for a Special Election on April 3, 2018 for you to consider an increase in the Physical Plant & Equipment Levy (PPEL).
School administration has a responsibility to remain neutral regarding elections, but equally important is our responsibility to provide factual information regarding school elections. The upcoming election asks members of our school district to increase the current voter approved PPEL from $0.67 to $1.34. This additional $0.67 would be used by the district to accelerate the replacement cycle of our school busses.
The current plan for updating busses and vehicles using PPEL funds is a rotation to purchase a bus every other year. Earlier this year, we were able to purchase a new bus. The bus purchased this fall cost $95,774, so you can see the purchase of busses is a significant expenditure. Other busses in our fleet range in age from 2010 models to a 1995 model. Under our current purchase plan, the last bus to be replaced will be a 2010 model that will be replaced in 2037-2038.
If our community approves the increase by a majority vote, the district intends to purchase one new bus each year over the next several years, allowing us to update the fleet so that busses are used on routes for 7 years and stay in the fleet for 12 years. Support vehicles, which now range in age from 3 years old to 18 years old, would also be purchased more often and kept for 6 years.
PPEL revenue has been very important in the Alburnett School District. Our community’s support of this levy in the past allows us to budget in three key areas: 1) facility needs, 2) technology, and 3) transportation. PPEL Funds cannot be used to operate the district – no salaries, no instructional supplies – only items that appear on the ballot can be supported with these funds. Specific to transportation, this also means no salaries and no fuel for busses. By budgeting ahead in the three categories above, we have been able to address current facility needs and plan ahead for things such as roof replacements and technology life-cycles. This includes our current plan for bus replacements.
However, as our bus fleet continues to age, the last couple of years have been challenging for bus repairs and overall reliability on bus routes. As the costs of repairs continue and interruptions to routes become unfortunately more common, it has become necessary to consider a faster replacement cycle for busses. If PPEL is increased by $0.67, we would be able to purchase one bus each year and not have to put off facility repairs and technology updates to do so.
As I wrote last month, the school board is committed to a lower property tax rate, even with your approval of the $0.67 PPEL increase.
As always, we welcome your questions and feedback.