New Rockford-Sheyenne School hopes to renovate.
Rot and mold. That's what contractors discovered eighteen months ago when they started to replace the very first window in the New Rockford-Sheyenne School. The NR-S school board allocated $53,000 to replace twenty-one windows just on the north side. It was the beginning--and the end--of a project the Board funded to replace every window in the school. And it began the process of trying to save the school and keep from building a new one.
The school was constructed in 1954, and was a marvel for the time. But time passes, and marvels tarnish. Now, in addition to the rot and mold in the walls, there is the ancient heating and cooling system, inadequate power capacity, and very poor air quality because the heating and cooling system doesn't exchange the indoor air.
"So when it get stuffy," said Jill Louters, "teachers open the windows, which lets in the fresh, but also causes our outdated HVAC system to run longer and harder, costing us money. CO2 levels are dangerously high in the majority of the classrooms." Louters is the Superintendent for the NR-S School District.
The plan, if voters approve the bond issue said Louters, is for "enveloping" the school. All the original exterior walls will be removed and replaced, allowing for new wiring, windows, and HVAC ventilation.
"It's ambitious," she said, "but considering the cost of building new, this is really a viable alternative."
In order to build a new school building, there would need to be a new site, which would, of course, move the school. Louters said the location of the school is perfect now. The cost for building a new school of equal size, 66,000 square feet, would be nearly $20 million. The cost of enveloping, with upgraded electrical and HVAC, would be just over $3.2 million.
"This would be over twenty years," said Louters. "And from an economic perspective this is a good time to do it. Interest is two percent. The increase to the mill rate is very small. And as a district we have no debt, so bringing on this amount will be very easy for us to retire. The savings in electricity and gas will be substantial." Right now, the district's annual cost for electricity and gas are $33, 900 and $22,800 respectively.
The annual tax increase for district residents would be:
• A $1,000 taxable valuation for a home will see a $14.17 increase in taxes; a $4,500 taxable valuation for a home will see a $63.77 increase.
• A $1,000 taxable valuation for commercial and ag land will see a $14.17 increase; a $5,000 taxable valuation will see a $70.85 increase.
The General Bond Election for the wall renovation project has been set for Tuesday, October 17. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., in the Gym Lobby.
"I've talked to a lot of people about this bond issue," said Louters, "and they are excited. They think it's time to preserve this old building so that we can keep our school. But this all will be decided by vote, and I encourage everyone one to come out and vote."