Denmark-Olar School District Two Bond Issue - Frequently Asked Questions
1. When is the date of the bond referendum?
The referendum will be held on November 8, 2016, the same time as the Presidential election. Because it is a local question, the bond referendum question will be at the very end of the ballot. (For the exact wording that will appear on the ballot, see Question 21.)
2. What are the proposed improvements at each school?
The district’s three schools will be combined into one Pre-K-12 school on the property where the high school is now located. The shell of the high school will remain, but it will be completely renovated. The middle and elementary schools will be replaced by a new Pre-K-8 school that will be connected to the renovated high school. New sports fields will be constructed on the same property. The sports fields include a new 1,500-seat football stadium, baseball and softball fields, four tennis courts and a soccer field. New locker rooms are also included. It is not yet certain where the new school administration and maintenance buildings will be built.
3. How will making these improvements affect students?
These upgrades will provide new and improved buildings and classrooms as well as current technology to help make students’ experience at school better. Studies have shown that improvements in the physical school environment can improve student learning.
4. What will be the overall effect of making these improvements?
The improvements would:
5. Will the construction process provide business or employment opportunities for local residents?
The Construction Management at Risk delivery system will seek out and provide opportunities for local contractors and vendors. Typically, notices are sent out to the community and meetings are scheduled to allow local businesses to meet with the Construction Management personnel. Once identified, they will be given opportunities to become involved with the project as a subcontractor through the bidding process.
6. What process was used to determine what schools would be improved and the type of improvements each would get?
The existing elementary and middle schools were closely examined to determine if it would be in the district’s best interest from a cost standpoint to renovate them and bring each school up to International Building Code Compliance, which would be required. Due to age and the current physical conditions present at each school, the costs to renovate were too close to new construction costs for that option to be considered.
7. Why is a bond referendum needed at this time?
A bond referendum is needed at this time because it is the only way the School District can obtain the funds it will take to build new school facilities for our students.
8. Is there any other way to raise the money to pay school improvements?
Under South Carolina law, Denmark-Olar Two cannot borrow enough funds to pay for renovating and building a new school without the approval of voters in the School District. There are no other federal, state or local funds available to pay for the new school construction/renovation project.
9. How much is the bond issue?
The bond issue will allow the Denmark-Olar School District Two to borrow up to $38 million for construction and renovation costs.
10. How was the amount of the bond issue determined?
Cost projections for the new and renovated facilities were based on the size (square footage) of the new Pre-K-8 school and the scope of the renovation and additions to the High School. Appropriate amounts have been included to provide a reserve and cover any unexpected changes in the cost goods or services.
11. How long will it take to pay off the bonds and what will the total cost be, including interest?
Denmark-Olar Two has been approved for a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Facilities loan. The 40-year loan has a 2.75 percent interest rate. See below for cost estimates.
12. How much will property taxes increase on my home?
The proposed improvements would affect the portion of property taxes homeowners pay toward what is called Debt Service, which goes toward repaying money borrowed for such things as school construction. The millage levy dedicated to Debt Service for tax year 2016 is 75 mills. Each Debt Service mill is $1/per mill on a $25,000 home. As an example, taxes this year on an owner-occupied home with an assessed value of $50,000 would equate to $150. The projected increase is expected to be 40 mills, representing up to an $80 per year potential increase above the 2016 millage rate based on an assessed value of $50,000. This is similar to Bamberg District One's millage rate when it built its new school. The table below provides more examples.
Note: Debt Service millage is only one part of property tax bills..
13. If the bond issue is approved, when will I see an increase in my tax bill?
There will be a small increase in tax years 2017 and 2018 as the new school is under construction, with the full impact of the Debt Service millage (explained in answer #12 above) to be in the 2019 tax year.
14. Will any School District employees lose their jobs as a result of this plan?
The District does not plan to layoff or reduce the hours of any of its current employees if the bond referendum passes. If the referendum passes, the new school won't open until the fall of 2019 or spring of 2020, which will give the District time to adjust its staff size through retirements and attrition. Also, there is a possibility that the new school facility will attract such an increased number of students that the overall number of District employees remains stable.
15. Who will be responsible for managing/providing oversight of construction?
In addition to the traditional responsibilities of the Architect/Engineer for construction contract administration, the School District will employ a Construction Management firm to oversee the construction of the project from start to finish. The Building Code also requires testing and compliance of all major building systems by an independent agency hired by the School District.
16. Will appropriate auditing of the building program be established?
Under the Construction Management at Risk delivery method, the cost for the project is guaranteed before construction begins. Once the Guaranteed Maximum Price is set, only changes in the scope of work can alter the contract amount of the project. Monthly payment applications submitted by the Construction Management at Risk Firm and are audited by the Architect/Engineer prior to payment by the School District.
17. How long will it take for improvements to begin if the bond issue is approved?
Final design and construction approvals will begin immediately if the referendum passes November 8, 2016. Completion of Design for the project will take approximately six months. Allow an additional two months for regulatory agency review and approval, and it is most likely that construction will begin in September of 2017. The Elementary/Middle School will need 18 months for completion. The High School renovation schedule will add an additional six months to the schedule and is subject to starting and stopping based on events during the school year. Overall, the project will take 24-30 months to complete.
18. How much public input did the district get in making this decision?
Denmark-Olar School District Two has been exploring upgrades to its schools for over two years, with public discussion throughout the process. The decision whether to pursue the current plan will be up to the voters in the School District on November 8, 2016.
19. When is the last time the district sought a bond referendum?
The last bond referendum was held on May 16, 1992, and was successful.
20. What will happen if the bond referendum does not pass?
If the bond referendum does not pass, the School District will be forced to stay in its current, outdated facilities and repair them to the best of its ability.
21. What’s the question on the ballot?
"Shall the Board of Trustees of Denmark-Olar School District Number Two of Bamberg County, South Carolina (the "School District") be empowered to issue, at one time or from time to time, general obligation bonds of the School District, in a principal amount of not exceeding $38,000,000, the proceeds of which shall be used to finance the costs of constructing and equipping new facilities and renovating and expanding existing facilities to provide a district administration facility and a maintenance facility and to provide a comprehensive Pre-K-12 educational complex with athletic facilities on the site of the existing high school?"
Bamberg School District Two
September 23, 2016
School buildings suffering from chronic conditions such as poor classroom conditions, outdated technology and mechanical issues can negatively impact student achievement, something we know all too well in Denmark-Olar District Two.
That is why we, as stewards charged with ensuring our district’s students have the best educational opportunities possible, recently voted to place a $38 million bond referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot. If voters approve the request, it will allow Denmark-Olar District Two to overhaul its school facilities.
The bond issue would pay for the construction and renovation costs for a new Pre-K-12 school facility comprised of a Pre-K-8 school and a high school, as well as sports fields and new school district administration and maintenance offices. The sports fields include a new 1,500-seat football stadium, baseball and softball fields, four tennis courts and a soccer field. New locker rooms are also included. The location of the new administration offices has not been determined.
The proposed Pre-K-12 school complex would provide safe, modern, controlled learning spaces and give teachers current technology, including the internet.
Denmark-Olar District Two’s elementary and middle schools are well past their useful lives, while the high school needs to be renovated and expanded to meet current standards. The shell of the high school will remain in place, but it will be completely renovated. The middle school and elementary school will move into new facilities connected to the renovated high school at the high school location. The new stadium and athletic fields will be at the same location.
Our current schools suffer from an array of problems, such as leaks, poor electrical service, outdated technology, breakdowns in heating and air systems and issues with classroom space.
The existing Elementary and Middle Schools were extensively examined to determine if it would be feasible from a cost standpoint to renovate them and bring each school up to International Building Code Compliance, which would be required. Due to age and the current physical conditions present at each school, the costs to renovate were too close to new construction costs for that option to be considered.
District Two has been approved for a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Facilities loan. The 40-year loan has a 2.75 percent interest rate. Such a low rate would keep the overall cost of the loan down. The loan would be paid off by taxes on property in School District Two.
At the moment, it is estimated that the owner of a $100,000 home would pay an additional $160 a year if voters approve the bond issue. The owner of a $50,000 house would pay an additional $80 per year.
The proposed upgrades in Denmark-Olar District Two would bring our schools up to par with our neighbors in Bamberg School District One. Also the cost to District Two taxpayers would be similar to the amount District One taxpayers pay to support their school improvements.
It is critical that the public has a clear understanding of the proposed bond issue. To facilitate that, four public meetings have been held so far, with two remaining:
Sept. 27 -- 6:30 p.m.
Progressive Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ ChurchGymnasium,
282 Progressive Way, Denmark, SC
October 11 -- 6:30 p.m.
First Baptist Church
433 Beech Avenue, Denmark, SC
We hope that District Two voters will take full advantage of these informational meetings. The decision to seek a bond issue was not made lightly. District Two has been pursuing avenues to upgrade its school facilities for over two years, with public discussion throughout the process.
Under South Carolina law, Denmark-Olar School District Two cannot borrow enough funds to pay for renovating and building a new school without the approval of voters. There are no other federal, state or local funds available to pay for the new school construction/renovation project.
If the bond issue is approved, the project would take an estimated 24-30 months to complete, including construction approvals and regulatory review and approvals. If the bond referendum does not pass, District Two will be forced to stay in its current, outdated facilities and repair them to the best of its ability.
The decision to seek this bond issue was made with one goal in mind: to put our students and teachers in a position to be as successful as possible. We believe the proposed new facilities will achieve that.