5/31/16 ABSS won’t ask for bond this year

ABSS won’t ask for bond this year
By Isaac Groves, The Times-News 5/31/16  
Reprinted with permission.      

   Between building two new schools and expanding several others — possibly — major renovations and an annual schedule for painting, roofing and replacing carpet, the Alamance-Burlington School System will need some money in the next few years.

   The school district has been using a $36.5 million bond voters approved in 2004 for capital expenses. There is about $800,000 of that left and ABSS gets about $1.5 million per year for construction from the lottery.

   Asking for a school bond seems almost certain. At a recent forum at Graham High School, ABSS Superintendent Bill Harrison said the redistricting proposal he has been developing over the past few months would basically be sunk without a bond passing.

   A bond measure on the November ballot would have to be filed by the beginning of July, said Kathy Holland, director of the Alamance Community College Board of Education, and the redistricting proposal for ABSS is far from final.

   “We will not be ready by November. My recommendation will not go to the Board until December,” Harrison wrote in an email to the Times-News. “We will probably rely on lottery funding for some of that and will make requests to the commissioners for capital needs.”

   The bond might not just be for ABSS. At the ACC Board of Trustees retreat in March, several trustees said the college should piggyback on the school bond to fund part of its own 10-year, $59 million strategic plan.

   The school district’s five-year strategic plan is based on a so-called vision plan drafted by a community based committee after a lot of meetings and some public forums. It aims to make ABSS a top-tier public-school district and includes high-quality school buildings.

   The district has not come up with an estimate for all these proposals, though a required report to the state estimated $185 million in construction and renovations over five years. Harrison said that was an overblown figure, and has at times used $150 million as a rough estimate.

   Harrison has looked at some alternative funding, including performance contracting, borrowing against future energy savings to make upgrades to things like lighting and windows, and public-private partnerships that would allow the district to get a new school built and lease it to own from the builder.

Alamance Lottery Revenue

Total fiscal year 2014: $6,846,106
Total since 2006: $47,386,150
2014 construction: $1,534,656
Construction to date: $16,744,260
235 pre-kindergarten slots: $1,131,269,
548 college scholarships: $655,660
835 UNC need-based awards: $174,384
Digital learning: $85,143

Source: ABSS