Wayzata Public Schools’ administrators have been working with local legislators on legislation that would allow the district to be eligible for the state’s alternative facilities bonding and levy program. Senator Terri Bonoff is sponsoring the Senate version of the bill (Senate File 433) and Representatives John Benson and Connie Doepke are co-sponsoring the House version (House File 1331).
The state’s alternative facilities bonding and levy program allows qualifying school districts to raise funds through local levies or bonds to cover the cost of certain building maintenance and repair projects. Voter approval is not required on alternative facilities levies or bonds. Funding from alternative facilities levies or bonds can only be used to repair or maintain existing buildings. Qualifying projects would include roof repair or replacement, parking lot repair, replacement of air quality equipment, or similar projects. Funding from alternative facilities levies or bonds cannot be used to build or upgrade existing facilities. These funds are meant to allow districts to maintain the quality of facilities.
Qualification for the program is based on a district’s square footage of building space and the average age of building space. Under current law, the qualifications for the program are:
* More than 1.85 million square feet of space and an average age of building space of 15 years or older; or more than 1.5 million square feet of space and an average age of 35 years or older.
Wayzata Public Schools has approximately 1.6 million square feet of space and a current average age of about 29 years. Based on the current qualifications, Wayzata would qualify for the program in about six years.
The proposed legislation sponsored by local legislators would change the qualifications for the program to “more than 1.5 million square feet and an average age of building space of 15 years or older.” This change would allow Wayzata to qualify for the program beginning in the 2009-2010 school year.
Both the Senate and the House versions of the bill were heard in the committee process. It is the district’s hope that the provision will be included in the Omnibus Education Bill that will be approved later this spring. More information will be included in the June edition of the Communicator.