$26 Million Bond Issue Passes In Cozad, Renovations To Elementary And High School Coming

$26 Million Bond Issue Passes In Cozad, Renovations To Elementary And High School Coming
Cozad residents passed the $26 million bond by a vote of 999-436 on Tuesday. Courtesy graphic

COZAD — Residents of the Cozad Community Schools district passed a $26 million bond issue that will allow for renovations to the elementary and high school and reduce the footprint of the district from five buildings to three.

Ballots were due on Tuesday, March 15 and the bond passed by a vote of 999-436.

When asked about the bond passing, CCS Superintendent Angela Simpson said she is, “excited for the district,” to get the go ahead for these renovations and changes. She said CCS can begin planning for the future.

Tentatively, the district is looking at two years of construction, with concept plans being draw up to start. Simpson said construction will likely start in the fall and she hopes to see students start the 2024-2025 school year with everything completed.

Simpson said the bond process started out in January 2021 when a facilities study was conducted. Results came back in March and revealed $18 million would be required for needed updates to the school facilities.

To conduct renovations, Simpson said many areas would have to be brought up to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifications. Several areas in the district have been grandfathered in for many years, she said.

Also, some areas of the schools haven’t been upgraded for several decades.  For instance, Simpson said the high schools windows haven’t been changed since 1967, the year the building was built. The $26 million bond issue presented to Cozad school district residents included several projects, such as reducing the district’s building footprint and renovating the elementary and high school.

The school’s district office north of the high school will be closed and the superintendent and staff will move to the high school and preschool students will be moved to the elementary school.

The district has budgeted to demolish the former North Elementary, where the preschool is currently located. To facilitate these moves, the Cozad Elementary School and Cozad High School would see an increase in classroom space, create secure entrances, fix handicapped accessibility and other concerns.

The elementary building additions and renovations would include new Preschool, Kindergarten, elementary classrooms, music, library, and special education space. A new kitchen and multi-purpose dining area will also be included as well as secure entrances with a reception and office space.

As a result, all Pre-K grade classrooms and services in the same building, a parking lot will also be included at the elementary school, to help alleviate parking on the streets surrounding the building. The high school additions and renovations would include secure entrances with office space, Science, Art, and Alternative Ed classrooms, spacious commons area, locker rooms, and a competition-level gymnasium.

Secure entrances include vestibules attached to administrative offices where visitors will be greeted prior to entering other parts of the building. Roofs and HVAC systems would also be updated in the existing buildings.

There is still a bond outstanding in Cozad that was approved in 2005 and set to mature around June 2024. This bond was voted on and is taxed upon only city property and a small amount of agriculture land outside of city limits.

The new bond till tax on all valuation, both property and land that lies within district boundaries. The new bonded debt service will be structured around the remaining bond creating a level tax levy impact for taxpayers.

As the older bond is retired and the new bond takes its place, the net tax impact on homes will be around four cents per $100 of assessed value per year. For example, a house valued at $100,000, the annual tax increase to pay for the bond will be around $40 or $3.50 per month.