This article is a continuation of questions that have been posed to me regarding San Saba ISD’s Building Project. Please find Part I on the SSISD website or in the San Saba News & Star online site. Last week I addressed questions regarding the current debt on the Armadillo Arena and the Central Office, the remaining debt 1998 Bond, and the San Saba ISD Bank Depository. The questions that have been addressed came out of a town hall meeting. Questions are always appreciated, as questions begin conversations. If this list generates a question in your mind, please do not hesitate to call me at my office (325/372-3771) or come by and visit me or one of the school board members.
Question – "Why does San Saba need a new elementary school?" – We are asking for the new elementary school because of campus flooding, security, inefficiency, space, electrical capacity, and to provide the community with a school that will attract citizens to our community and be viable for years to come. San Saba Elementary School is subject to flooding. The buildings are positioned in low lying areas and are subject to run-off from above Annex Street. Flooding surrounds the building from Annex Street and Storey Street and sand bagging is necessary to keep water from penetrating the buildings. The current electricity capacity in the buildings can not sustain current demands for technology. Currently each classroom operates a projector and multiple laptops. In the elementary campus alone, 5 bulbs have blown due to the demand on the electrical infrastructure. Additionally, each classroom has heating and air conditioning units that are 20 plus years old. These units are inefficient to operate and will need to be replaced in the very near future. As well, the restrooms in each of the classrooms have louvered openings allowing the outside elements in and making it inefficient. The current roof system leaks in multiple classrooms. Safety – currently the elementary students attend school in 7 different buildings. As students move to classrooms and other outer buildings much instructional time is lost. Students must travel across Storey Street to go to the library and to the red gym for PE. The campus is open to anyone who wants to come on to the campus. There is no way to control who is on campus and this presents a safety concern. In the mornings, drop off becomes dangerous as does pick up time in the afternoon. The next time carpet is replaced in these buildings the asbestos tile will have to be abated. The K-2 wings are accessible by anyone wanting to walk on campus. A door with glass windows is all that is separating the students. During storms, there is no place for students to take cover when threatened by tornadic weather. The exterior glass block walls and the lack of available covered space put students in jeopardy. Maintenance on the current facility and bringing this facility up to a standard that it would make it viable for the future can not be accomplished out of the operating budget.
Question – "Is San Saba ISD committed to paying down the current debt?" - The following is a quote from the ISD’s fund balance policy adopted by the board of trustees, "San Saba Independent School District believes that sound financial management principles require that sufficient funds be retained by the ISD to provide a stable financial base at all times. To retain this stable financial base, the ISD needs to maintain a General Fund Balance sufficient to fund all cash flows of the ISD, to provide financial reserves for unanticipated expenditures and/or revenue shortfalls of an emergency nature, and to provide funds for all existing encumbrances and support future plans. Additionally, the San Saba ISD has exercised the strategic planning process to determine long term goals that support the designation and commitment of funds. It is the policy of San Saba ISD to maintain twenty-five percent of the ISD’s combined annual operating expenditures as a target. Additionally, it is the policy of San Saba ISD to annually designate funds and unused operating funds to the future and ongoing projects. The current projects include: Technology, Construction, and Maintenance." The Texas Education Agency requires Texas school districts to maintain 2 month’s operating expenses. For San Saba ISD, this amount is approximately $1,050,000. According to the 2009-2010 audit. San Saba ISD is committed to paying down the debt on the Armadillo Arena, the Central Office and the bond project of 1998. The bond project of 1998 was refinanced in 2008 and is currently managed by the .09 cent tax rate along with the 23% funds provided by the Texas Education Agency. In the 2010 – 2011 school year San Saba ISD made principal payments to reduce the Armadillo Arena/Central project in the amount of $80,000 and on the SSMS project $110,000 toward reducing the debt. Again, recall the bonds on the middle school project are not callable as they were refinanced in 2006. The unknown outcome of the current legislative session makes it difficult to guarantee that San Saba ISD can make a substantial payment to buying down the debt of the Armadillo Arena and the Central Office. The ISD is committed to buying down this debt if the District is financially able to do this without putting operating in jeopardy. The operating budget is volatile as the largest portion of the revenue is based on state funds generated by student enrollment.