In September 2003, the South Lane School Board began examining the state of facilities and district-owned property in preparation for constructing a new district Facilities and Property plan. At a board work session all buildings and land owned by the district were reviewed including the year purchased, cost of the purchase, and current state of the facility (Attachment A). Former Facilities and Maintenance Supervisor Ron Lester gave a report including a recommended list of priorities for future consideration. The board discussed and brainstormed other items for consideration. In March 2006, a second board work session was held to review the board's facilities goal and further develop the concept of a short and long term facilities plan. A third board work session occurred in October 2007, to hear an updated report from former Supervisor Ron Lester regarding the current state of facilities and an updated list of needs and priorities. The data and discussion that occurred over this four-year period of time was incorporated into South Lane School District's Facility and Property Plan which was adopted at the regular school board meeting on December 3, 2007. This plan shall be reviewed and updated annually at a regular meeting of the school board.
"The wise school board knows that while the education of students is its first priority, maintaining the facilities within which students are learning is also an important stewardship responsibility. A safe and healthy environment can support learning (Rickabaugh, 2003)." The South Lane School Board's priorities for facilities are detailed in its Capital Improvements Administrative Regulation FC-AR. In this regulation four priorities are detailed as follows:
- Protection of life and health; compliance with mandated requirements governing facilities and fire safety requirements;
- Direct support of the educational program;
- Urgently required to comply with the priorities set forth in the district's comprehensive planning program for facilities and sites; and
- All others.
Although research related to the effect school facilities has on student academic outcomes is limited, there is still good evidence that school facilities do affect learning. Spatial configuration, noise, heat, cold, light, and air quality obviously bear on students' and teachers' ability to perform (Schneider, 2002). Many states are looking at policies and funding related to the maintenance, updating, and building of school facilities. Today, more than 40 states provide some ongoing facilities funding, with most states prioritizing funding for high poverty school districts (Hunter, 2006). South Lane School District accessed Oregon's facility funds as part of the new construction of Cottage Grove High School. The district received an additional $997,000 to help with the new construction costs. More recently the district received Qualified Zone Academy Bonds totaling $950,000 of low interest financing to support technology and maintenance capital improvements (Attachment B).
South Lane School District is comprised of nine school sites all at different locations. The district's schools span 663 miles. In addition to the nine school sites, the district owns and maintains four other building locations including a warehouse, transportation department, maintenance facility and school district office. The total acreage of all 13 sites is 266.69 acres. At the Taylor Street property where Kennedy Alternative High School is located, the district owns and maintains the pool, old weight room (now South Valley Athletic Office), current softball field and a maintenance shop. The rest of the Taylor Street property is co-maintained with South Valley Athletics on a contracted basis.
Our school buildings range in age from 1912 to 2003. Our oldest school facility is London School which was built in 1912 and was added to in subsequent years. The cost of the original school is unknown. In 2000, Cottage Grove voters passed a $25.9 million bond to build a new Cottage Grove High School which opened its doors in 2003. Our buildings average approximately 55 years, with our oldest school structure over 85 years of age.
The district currently owns vacant property at Latham School - approximately five acres; the south end of Bohemia School - approximately 30 acres; Harrison School - less than one acre; Delight Valley School - approximately five acres; and the Cottage Grove High School site west of "R" Street - approximately 65 acres. The district has cleared the land and is bringing in dirt to construct a baseball facility at the southwest end of the "R" Street property. Funding for the baseball field is incomplete with some district funds available and a contribution from the Faye and Lucille Stewart Foundation. Another $150,000 is needed to complete the baseball facility as designed. The current baseball facility on Kelly Street is owned by the City of Cottage Grove.
The district's Facility and Site Plan includes a schedule of projects organized into three categories:
- Immediate Projects - 0-3 years; including many annual maintenance items such as roofing, painting, electrical, and floor coverings. In addition, larger projects where funding has been identified and the need is immediate fall into this category.
- Intermediate Projects - 3-7 years; these projects don't affect the immediate health and safety of staff and students but are approaching that standard.
- Long Term Projects - 7+ years; these projects are inevitable, but the funding tends to put these projects off into the future. They are not immediate safety or health concerns, and aren't likely to occur due to funding or planning before 7 years.
The 2007-2008 school board goal to "continue to assess current facility and property needs of the district and develop a short and long-range vision of future needs" should be assisted by this plan. Additional funding sources are needed to make this plan a reality. Currently there are four main resources used to implement the Facility and Property Plan. These funding sources include:
- General Fund 100 (2540) - allocated $2,709,614 during the 2007-2008 school year. Of this amount, $1,487,214 funded five maintenance and grounds staff, 27 custodians and plant managers, one supervisor and the associated payroll costs for these staff members. The remaining $1,222,400 supports contracted services, repairs, supplies, equipment, and dues and fees.
- General Fund 100 (Transfer to Fund 450) - transferred $250,000 from the General Fund to Special Revenue Fund 450 Capital Improvements. The transfer funds the majority of summer maintenance projects and any remaining funds are used throughout the year. If any funds are unexpended in Special Revenue Funds, they carry over in that fund for the next school year.
- Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) - $950,000 was received in low interest bond funds to support the implementation of the district's technology plan and some aspects of the Facilities and Property plan. See Attachment B for details of these expenditures.
- Construction Excise Tax (CET) - this tax is a result of a new piece of legislation passed in the 2007 Oregon Legislative Session. Senate Bill 1036 gave the authority to local school boards to enact a construction tax based on certain parameters and Intergovernmental Agreements with city and county agencies. The actual amount to be collected from the CET is yet to be determined, but will be used to fund components of the district's Facility and Property Plan.
The goal of the district and school board is to fund as many action items as possible from the plan in a given year. The availability of resources shall determine how much of the action plan is accomplished. The plan will be reviewed and revised each year to make adjustments based on available resources. The district will seek additional funds when available to help support the plan.