To view Dr. Doug Brubaker's video commentary, click here.
As the school year continues toward its close, I am excited to share some great news this afternoon about the finances of our district and some upcoming projects.
First, the district has the opportunity to refund some bonds. This is a little like refinancing a mortgage. Because we have access to lower interest rates now than when the bonds were originally issued, the District saves money. It is estimated that Fort Smith Public Schools will save over $560,000 over the life of these bonds, with over $400,000 in savings to come during the 2018 fiscal year.
Creating these efficiencies provides a unique opportunity to tackle some long-term needs. During the last committee meeting on May 8, the board gave preliminary approval for a strategic planning initiative to begin this fall. Strategic planning is a process that school districts use to collect input and feedback from parents, community members, staff, students, and other stakeholders about the district’s highest priorities, set goals, and plan strategies for the next five years. This is a process that we began discussing during the superintendent search, and I’m very excited to begin this work with our school district family. I believe that some great instructional strategies will emerge from that process. The bond refunding and other efficiencies that we are exploring will help get many initiatives off the ground.
I’ve been hearing a lot from parents and community members about how our website needs to be updated so that people can find information more easily. Our website is the window through which the world sees us, including families and businesses that are considering a move to our area. We want that window to be as transparent and user-friendly as possible. We will be working on making some improvements.
Other projects that we’re planning in the near future include new or expanded awnings for Bonneville, Fairview, and Tilles Elementary Schools for student loading areas. That list may continue to expand as we continue to assess our facilities.
Also, through the State of Arkansas Facilities Partnership program, the District has been awarded more than $6.2 million for additions and renovations at Trusty Elementary; Ramsey and Kimmons Junior High Schools; and Southside High School. The award also includes some funding for two tornado shelters at both Northside and Southside High Schools. Our Facilities and Finance teams are developing updated projections of what the district’s contribution will need to be. We’ll keep you posted.
You may also notice in the near future that we’re continuing to complete some smaller-scale renovation projects around the district that that have been in the planning stages for a year or more. As we continue to work on those, we’re looking for ways to expand the use of our own crews. We have a team of very talented craftsmen who do outstanding work.
Here at the Service Center, a boardroom needed to be renovated because the paneling in it would no longer meet fire code. By utilizing district craftsmen, we saved a lot of money and have a product at the end of the day that will be both functional and attractive for years to come. I am truly in awe of the high quality of work that they do, and the results that they achieve, for the investment.
It is a great time to live, work, and learn in our community. Our team will keep working to improve services and facilities for all of the people we serve in ways that create efficiencies and produce the most value possible for each investment.