Q: What is the total cost of the proposed bond?

For Question 1: As a result of financing Question 1 ($41,750,000) over 20 years at an estimated interest rate of 3.53%, the total interest expense paid over 20 year is estimated to be $23,843,800. The interest rate includes estimated bond costs of approximately 2% of the amount financed. The State of KS will pay 19% of annual principal and interest payments. This amount is not paid up front, but paid each year over the life of the bonds. Annual state aid payments reduce the local mill levy requirement to support bond payments.

For Question 2: As a result of financing Question 2 ($3,120,000) over 20 years at an estimated interest rate of 3.53%, the total interest expense paid over 20 year is $1,780,287. The interest rate includes estimated bond costs of approximately 2% of the amount financed. The State of KS will pay 19% of annual principal and interest payments. This amount is not paid up front, but each year over the life of the bonds. Annual state aid payments reduce the local mill levy requirement to support bond payments.

To summarize with an estimated “all-in," the accurate estimate is $70,494,087, of which 19% will be paid annually by the State of Kansas, reducing the local mill levy requirement.

Click Here to view the legal notice that was published in the Great Bend Tribune two times prior to the election. This publication is required by State Statute.

Q: Annually, how much does USD 428 spend per-pupil?

A: To answer this question we look at both the actual spending for the past two years, as well as the budgeted estimates for 2019-2020.

  • 2017-2018 Actual: $13,589
  • 2018-2019 Actual: $13,802
  • 2019-2020 BUDGETED: $16,019 (This is a budgeted number, projected spending is in-line with the roughly $14K final expenses shown from previous years).

Budget Inflation due to Special Services Expenses: As the host district for Barton County Special Services Cooperative, USD 428's annual budget shows all of the expense for the professional staff (Special Education Teachers, Paraprofessionals, Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, etc) that serves all four school districts in Barton County as well as our private schools in Great Bend. However, USD 428 is not able to include the students served in our District’s Full-time Equivalent (FTE) numbers. BCSS serves 550 students in Great Bend, and nearly 300 students outside our district. This inflates our "per-pupil" spending figure even though the other districts reimburse us for a portion of the cost.

Classroom Instruction is 70% of expenses in the 2019-2020 USD 428 Budget.

Q: What role do PTA's or PTO's serve in fundraising for schools?

A: Parent and community partnerships help to fund many extracurricular activities and improvements at our buildings. Digital signs at our buildings, playground equipment, picnic tables, and more are the product of generous and engaged community members. However, our buildings do not all have the same access to financial resources. The 2019 Bond Question will ensure all schools receive the needed updates to their buildings, entrances, playground, etc. Community resources will be shared across the district, impacting all buildings.

Q: What is a mill levy?

A: Kansas tax rates are described in terms of mill levies. A mill levy is equal to $1 of taxes for every $1,000 in assessed value of personal property. It consists of local levies, which are used to fund area services (City, County, and Recreation), and a statewide portion.

Q: Why are schools funded by property tax and not sales tax?

A: The combined sales tax rate for Great Bend, KS is 8.25%. This is the total of state, county and city sales tax rates.

  • 6.5% - State of Kansas; 1% - Barton County; .75% - City of Great Bend. The school district does not have any taxing authority to impose a local sales tax.

In Kansas, and in most of the US, local sales taxes are not generally utilized to fund education directly. Sales tax is volatile in nature, less predictable, and distributed after it is collected. Sales tax is also viewed as a regressive tax that disproportionately burdens those who have lower incomes.

Bond financing provides immediate access to funds which are financed and repaid over a clear time period. With the 2019 Facilities Improvement Bond, the State of Kansas will pay 19% of the principal and financing costs.

Q: Why at Sept. 5, Mail-in Election?

A: The September 5 election will focus solely on providing for the future of our schools and investment in education. A mail-in ballot seeks to engage more voters in the process, making voting easy and accessible for all.

This is not the first mail-in election for Barton County. The school district held a mail-in special bond election in February 1995 utilizing the same procedure. Since then, there have been mailed elections in Pawnee Rock and more recently in 2015 in Hoisington, as well as others.

Q: Why now?

A: All of USD 428's buildings (with the exception of the DEC & Central Kitchen) were built prior to 1960. Built to accommodate the needs of the 60’s, buildings do not have adequate power supply, safety and security measures to address current dangers, nor the accommodations for 21st century educational needs. After drafting a long-term facilities plan with a group of 45 engaged community members, this bond addresses the first phase of securing our schools and educational system for the future.

Q: Why move 6th-grade to Great Bend Middle School?

A: Middle School (also known as junior high or intermediate school) is an educational stage between primary school (elementary) and secondary school (high school). Middle schools vary across the state, typically spanning grades 5th-8th. The 2019 Facilities Improvement Bond proposes the promotion of 6th-grade to Great Bend Middle School, making GBMS a 6-8 instructional building. Below are a few facts/reasons that support the decision to promote 6th-grade to GBMS:

  • 90% of Curriculum is written for 6-8 grade segments instead of K-6 grade segments
  • Increased access to enrichment & fine arts - at GBMS, 6th-grade students will have access to fine arts and other enrichment programs everyday and for longer periods of time than at the elementary level
  • At GBMS, 6th-grade students will be able to initiate Independent Plans of Study sooner, helping with college and career exploration and readiness
  • The proposed 6th-grade classroom wing will increase capacity a GBMS for students and will limit their interaction with seventh & eighth-grade students.
  • Mindset & Maturity - Sixth-grade students are typically 11 or 12 years old. At this age, and after six years in an elementary setting (K-5), students are suited for transition into a 6-8 learning environment where more academic and enrichment programs are available.
  • 6th-grade students are ready for a more sophisticated learning environment and curriculum that cannot be provided in an elementary setting.
  • Moving 6th-grade to GBMS creates space to expand free-K to all neighborhood elementary buildings. USD 428 received overwhelming feedback that pre-k should be put in the neighborhood elementary buildings. The 6th-grade promotion accomplishes both the goals of pre-k as well as the desired enhancements/access for 6th-grade students.
  • Financially, the consolidation of 6th-grade to GBMS is a cost savings for tax payers in comparison to the alternative of building onto existing buildings (which is not feasible in many locations due to land-lock and site limitations) to accommodate the addition of pre-k.

Q: Why invest in Early Childhood Education? Why free preschool for children ages 3 & 4?

A: Children who attend high-quality preschool do much better when they arrive in kindergarten, and this makes an enormous difference for their later success. The data on preschool is overwhelmingly positive. As a community, addressing the issues of poverty and wages has been identified as a key goal in the “Great Bend Better than Great” vision statement. Below are some statistics that identify how early childhood education can contribute to positive outcomes in these areas.

  • Children who are not proficient in reading by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than children who read at or above grade level — and 13 times more likely, if they live in poverty. A child’s brain grows to roughly 85 percent of its full capacity in the first five years of life. These are also the years when a child’s sense of what is possible is being formed.
  • Return on Investment: The Institute for a Competitive Workforce, an affiliate of the United States Chamber of Commerce, found in a 2010 report that “for every dollar invested today, savings range from $2.50 to as much as $17 in the years ahead.” Research by the University of Chicago economist James J. Heckman, a Nobel laureate, points to a 7- to 10-percent annual return on investment in high-quality preschool.

Information pulled from The New York Times - The Business Case for Early Childhood Education

Q: Who benefits from early childhood programs?

A: We all do. The primary beneficiaries are children and their parents. For example, if a low-income parent is able to secure a place for her child in a high quality pre-K program, that child is likely to benefit from exposure to a wider array of learning opportunities than he or she might have at home. Enrolling her child in pre-K may also open the door for the parent to take on employment or further her education in order to improve her career prospects. Those individual benefits can be substantial, and life-changing.

Other beneficiaries from such high quality pre-K programs may include state and local government, and more broadly, taxpayers and society at large. Because high quality early childhood programs promote healthy development, they can generate savings by removing the need for more expensive interventions later in a child’s life. For example, studies show that participation in high-quality early care can help children avoid special education, grade repetition, early parenthood, and incarceration – all outcomes that imply large costs for government and for society. Furthermore, children (over the long term) and parents who participate in such programs are more likely to be employed; thus revenue from their taxes and enhanced buying power can positively contribute to the local economy.

(Source: The Center for High Impact Philanthropy - https://www.impact.upenn.edu/our-analysis/opportunities-to-achieve-impact/early-childhood-toolkit/why-invest/what-is-the-return-on-investment/)

Q: What will happen to existing early childhood special education programs?

A: There is a combination of answers for this question and more discussions will take place when district-wide preschool becomes a reality. With the Washington Education Center being renovated/rebuilt in areas, students of all grades will continue to be served at that building based on their needs and abilities. Some students may integrate into neighborhood schools depending on the level of care they require.

Q: Does the state fund pre-k?

A: Yes. State and Federal funding will cover the cost of preschool instruction in our neighborhood elementary buildings. Adding free pre-k will create new jobs at USD 428.

Q: Why did USD 428 purchase new school buses when there were other needs to address in the district?

A: In January of 2019 the Board of Education approved the purchase of two new activity buses to replace two buses that were reaching the end of their life-span with high mileage and causing concern for breakdowns and constant repairs. The purchase price was $217,900 per bus, purchased from the lowest bid after an extensive RFP process.

USD 428 students spend an average of 1.5 - 2 hours (each way) on the road traveling for athletics and enrichment programs. The new buses accommodate more passengers (50 each) and each seat has a seat belt. An investment in safe and reliable transportation was approved as a necessary expenditure by the BOE.

Q: Will local contractors benefit/be hired to complete the work?

A: Yes, local contractors who have the means to meet the requirements and capacity to complete the project will be used to complete the work. Anticipating that the construction will last for 3-years, the local economy will benefit in the form of housing/hotels, retail, and dining.

Q: Will there be multiple phases of development?

A: A long-range master facilities plan was developed by a community steering committee consisting of over 50 individuals during a near 18 month evaluation process. The original master plan presented to the Board of Education in early January consisted of had three phases:

  • Phase 1 - Current Bond Proposal at $41,750,000 & $3,120,000
  • Phase 2 - $33 million
  • Phase 3 - $11 million

All three phases are a part of the architects master plan for USD 428 which is designed to project needs for the next 20-30 years. Each phase addresses the challenges, needs and/or opportunities that were identified by the community steering committee.

Phase 1 addresses the most pressing needs of USD 428. Currently, USD 428 is only pursuing Phase 1 with this bond election and has not set a timeline or intention to pursue Phase 2 or Phase 3. The long-range facilities plan can be viewed on USD 428’s website at Click Here.