A central Nebraska school district is turning to the community to help it make significant facility improvements.
According to News Channel Nebraska, Cozad Community Schools sent a $26 million bond issue to voters last week. They’ll determine by mail-in ballot whether it passes or not. Superintendent Angela Simpson says the process has been in the works since a strategic planning project in 2018.
“Really, this is a culmination of lots of years of concern,” Simpson said. “Finally, we just had to find a way to pay for it.”
Last spring, a facility assessment revealed $18.4 million of necessary upgrades to roofs, HVAC and electrical items. The school board decided that if it’s going to ask for a 20-year bond, it should do more than just bring the district up to code.
“We started looking at what needed to happen, what we would like to happen, what facilities could be updated, what facilities could be closed to increase our efficiency, and then we arrived at this final amount,” Simpson said.
In addition to the bare-bones upgrades, the $26 million would go to increasing security, a new high school gym, enhanced science rooms, adding an elementary kitchen, and building on 13 new classrooms at the elementary school.
Five of those rooms would be designated for preschool, allowing the district to demolish the current preschool building.
“It makes us have an area where our kindergarten classrooms are all together and our preschool classrooms are all in the same area,” Simpson said. “They share some common multipurpose space, so I’m hoping early childhood becomes a focus for our district.”
Administrative offices would move to the high school and the district would try to sell the current admin building.
The proposal would add $246 per year in taxes per $100,000 of valuation of non-ag property.
Simpson says it’s the right time for the project because constructions costs and interest rates are expected to climb.
“We understand that not everybody loves every single thing about what we’ve proposed,” Simpson said. “We hope they understand that we’ve spent a lot of time making sure that the physical, electrical and mechanical structures in this district will be brought up to speed.”
Ballots must be turned in by 5:00 p.m. on March 15th. If approved, construction work is expected to take about two years to complete.
You can find more details about the bond issue, including a financial calculator, by going to the campaign’s website.