Frequently Asked Questions
Is one elementary enough?
One new elementary school along with the additional classrooms at other schools proposed on the current project list will be enough to get us through this bond issue. However, additional schools will be needed in the future. Historically, PLCS has had a bond issue every 5-7 years.
Will we need portable classrooms in the future?
Probably. In PLCS we have built elementary schools to serve a neighborhood. The majority of the students attending an elementary school are in walking distance. Knowing that there are always some exceptions but for the most part we want an elementary school to serve the students in that immediate neighborhood. Knowing what happens to neighborhoods over time, we plan schools to accommodate the enrollment in the neighborhood long range. We know that with new schools the student enrollment will peak at a higher number than the neighborhood will sustain long range. If we built schools for the peak then overtime we would have schools that are mostly empty or we would need to bus students around the district to fill schools. So the plan is to build schools for the long range enrollment for a neighborhood, that means when the school peaks it is possible that portables will be needed in the short term.
Are we being aggressive enough?
We know additional schools will be needed in the future. How much should be built now is a balancing act with how much the community will support financially. The purpose of this phase of community feedback is to help us collect that input. To what extent does the community want us to build for the future growth we know is coming in the next 10-15 years? Or do we build what we need plus a little future planning and keep the bond issue to manageable size and tax impact? The current proposal will get us through the next 5-7 years but additional bond issues will be needed in the future.
Have we looked at projections of number at current elementary before we add on or renovate existing elementary schools?
Yes. The growth study tells us how many students we need to serve from each of the neighborhoods. We know the number of elementary, middle school and high school students we get from each of the neighborhoods. We then used those numbers as we planned for where classroom additions and new schools would be needed.
What is the class size compared to other Class A schools in the area?
There currently is no way to do that comparison. Each school district may calculate the average class size differently. In PLCS the average elementary class size is 21, at the middle school and high school the average size ranges by school between 21 and 23.
If we grow our buildings, what will be the population of the two high schools?
Currently the High School enrollment is 3,543, this includes 1,796 students at PLSHS and 1,747 students at PLHS. In the next five years that enrollment is projected to be 4,101 with 2,137 at PLSHS and 1,964 at PLHS. In ten years the total enrollment is projected to increase to 4,313 with 2,240 at PLSHS and 2,073 at PLHS. These projections do not include the land that is currently in Springfield Platteview and may be transferred to PLCS as it is developed. When all of that land is transferred and developed the total high school enrollment is projected to be right at 6,000 students. This would include either 2 high schools of 3000 each or 3 high schools of 2,000 each.
After we do all of this building, will we be able to sustain the large number buildings or will they eventually sit empty?
The goal of using portable classrooms and planning for the long term sustainable growth is to maximize the use of all facilities. Because the District does not over build schools, but rather builds schools for the flattening out timeframe of growth instead of building for the peak, the goal is to never have empty schools. However, all classrooms in all schools may not be used all the time for every school, the goal is build schools for the size that will be needed overtime.
Does the school district have input regarding city growth/development?
No. The city and school district are completely separate groups with their own governing boards elected by the community. The cities and PLCS collaborate frequently and share information, particularly about growth and planning but the decision making abilities are completely separate.
What is the meeting space at the District Stadium and how will it be used?
The current proposal is to build a building that will allow for at least two teams to meet and strategize at the same time. It will not include locker facilities for the teams, only meeting space. It will also include restroom and shower facilities for game officials.
What is the backup plan if this proposal is not approved?
The focus of Plan B is to have a great plan A that passes the first time. This why we go to such extensive lengths to collect feedback during the phase. The current goal is to collect enough feedback from the community that the final proposal is one that will pass. However, if the bond issue fails, the Board will have to take a step back, analyze why, and make a decision on next steps.
What will the teachers receive under the proposed bond? Where is their reward? A raise? Incentive pay?
Money obtained through a bond issue can only be used for capital construction. Bond money cannot be used to pay or incentivize staff salaries.
Liberty Middle School
With the expansion, will LMS feed just to PLSHS?
No. There are currently no plans to change middle school boundaries.
Will middle schools move to grades 6,7,8?
No. There are currently no plans to change the grade configuration at the middle schools. Even with the addition at Liberty, if 6th grade students were moved to the middle school all three middle schools would be overcrowded.
Was the original proposal for the size of Liberty 700-800 students but it was built smaller?
There was always a master plan that the school would some day be built for 700-800 students. The building was designed for the expansion. However, there was only enough money in the bond issue to build the school for 550 students. It was known all along that the school would need an addition.
Why build as you go? Please explain.
It is not really a plan for build as you go, it is more of a financial decision. With each bond issue a decision needs to be made regarding how much will the community support financially. Projects proposed in a bond issue reflect the dollar amount it is believed can pass at the time of the vote. We know additional schools are needed but it is not financially possible to build all schools in one bond issue. Also, if schools are built and they are half empty for years the community is concerned about wasting tax dollars. How much should be built and what is the need to stay a head of the growth continues to be a balancing act with each bond issue.
Why wasn’t the pool built when PLSHS was originally built?
The cost estimates for construction of the new high school were higher than anticipated. As the Board of Education approved the construction design a decision was made to keep all of the classrooms but eliminate the pool to get the cost of the project in line with the money approved in the bond issue.
Why is the pool listed as non-instructional space? (other districts use for instruction)
Swimming was eliminated from the PLCS curriculum several years ago due to lack of interest in the class. The current instruction period is only 50 minutes which limits the amount of time in a class period for actual swimming. Students were not interested in taking the class, so it was eliminated.
Uses for the pool? What other gains besides swim team?
There are still details regarding the pool that need to be worked out once a final decision is made. All of the activity space throughout the school district is highly used by the community. The pool would be as well. However, a plan for how the pool will be used will not be developed until a final decision is made on if it is included or not.
Why a pool at South when we can share Monarchs?
That is exactly what we need community feedback on. Will the community support a pool at South and should it remain in the bond issue?
Why not allow the private sector or community to take the lead on the pool?
Currently the city of Papillion is building a pool at the new recreation center. However, that pool is not built to competition size and would not work for a swim team. The city of La Vista is currently partnering with a private group to raise funds and build a multi-sports complex that would include a pool. It is unclear at this time if and when this complex will be completed. However, the school district will continue to have conversations with the City of La Vista and the private organization to see if this may be an option.
High School Programing
Would an individual student’s schedule be affected by a ninth grade wing? Will students spend a block of time in the wing vs. time spend in the general student population?
The goal of the ninth grade wing is to keep the core classes (English, math, science, social studies) for ninth grade students and their lockers in one area. However, all students will move freely throughout the school. Elective classes will not be in the 9th grade wing and if a 9th grade student is taking an upper level math class that most likely will not be in the 9th grade wing. Giving 9th grade students an area and keeping their core classes close to their locker will help with the transition into a larger high school.
It seems like there is already a block of 9th grade classrooms (at PLSHS). How would the proposed wing be any different?
It would be very similar to that concept only it would be designed with that purpose in mind. PLSHS has attempted to accomplish this goal and keep the 9th grade classes in one area but the physical structure was not set for this purpose. This 9th grade concept will provide both schools with adequate area designed for the purpose of 9th grade classes.
Will ROTC unit remain unified?
There are no plans to change the NJROTC at this time.
Can you provide more details on the trade space – what will it look like? What will it include?
None of the projects in the proposal have been taken to the design phase yet. So, exactly what it will look like, we don’t know until it is designed. However, the focus for the trade area is building construction and manufacturing including such things as welding.
IB program in the future?
A study of the IB program was conducted as part of a strategic plan initiative. That study recommended to not implement IB at this time. It is extremely expensive and only serves a small number of students. Instead PLCS is currently exploring an AP Capstone Program and AP International Diploma.
How do we ensure students will be able to participate in activities?
Student participation in activities has always been a priority for PLCS. As our high schools get larger the competition for varsity teams indeed becomes more challenging. However, there are always alternatives to varsity sports, such as intramurals, clubs and activities. We are committed to looking for alternatives so as many students as are interested have an opportunity to participate in some type of activity.
How will we promote STEM?
Students are first exposed to STEM through the middle school exploratory classes. All middle school students take STEM classes. At the high school level, the secondary counselors work with students to identify their individual interests and goals and align those goals with the courses students take. Finally the District will aggressively market the STEM academy to all students to make sure all students are aware of the opportunities that are available.
How competitive can you be in Class A with three high schools?
In a District like PLCS where parents and community are committed to sports and activities, we will always be competitive. The level of competition is driven by student talent and coaching. We will continue to take steps to make sure we are maximizing the ability in both of these areas.
High School Project
What is the flexible learning space at the high school?
The flexible learning space is designed first to support the fine arts classes. As the schools grow we know we will need additional space to offer fine arts courses. So several periods of the day the flexible learning space will be used for the fine arts. When it is not used for fine arts, the space will be an open area for large group projects, for students who are taking online or off campus courses and a large testing area for AP classes, ACT and state assessments.
Activity room? All students use the room what’s the plan for the activity room? As we are adding students will these spaces be addressed?
Yes. In both high schools there is an additional space for PE classrooms. Again as the school grows, we know that these areas need to grow to accommodate the increased student population. Both high school additions have an additional PE related classroom.
How can we use the space beyond the practice field to support the tennis courts?
The relocation of the tennis courts has not been determined yet. The space between practice fields is one of the spaces being considered. We are committed to relocating tennis, we are just not certain at this time where that will be.
Won’t more cafeteria space be needed too with more kids?
Yes. Each of the high school projects includes an expansion of the cafeteria.
Where did the money go from the previous bond for items that were listed and didn’t get completed?
All of the projects voted on in the last bond issue have been completed or are in the construction process at this time.
Now that the Learning Community is no longer, have we taken into consideration the extra money the district will be getting?
There is no extra money from the elimination of the Learning Community. All of the money received is going to fund the operational budget and 86% of the budget is to pay staff salaries. For example: last year our budgeted revenues included $49,601,417 in total property taxes from both the learning community and local sources. We received $43,430,187 in state aid last year. Total revenues from our major sources were $93,031,604.
This current year our budgeted revenues from local property tax is $57,765,633. However, the state legislature reduced our state TEEOSA funding and we will receive $37,273,592. Total revenues from our major sources were $95,039,225. This represents an increase of about $2 million and equates to the gain from the demise of the learning community. ($1.8 million was the loss in the previous year). Our budget increased $4.8 million with regular instruction and special education accounting for $4.65 million of the increase. Our budget dollars are going toward increases in staffing at the classroom level.
The bottom line, had the Learning Community funding not been eliminated, we would be struggling to fund our operational budget.
What is the life of the bond?
The term of the bonds is set at the time they are sold however, historically they have been 20 year bonds.
What is the status of the current bonds we are paying?
Currently have 3 bond issues we are paying off. Each of those bond issues have multiple phases, the last phase of current bonds will be paid off in 2035. In December of 2018 we will have two phases of bond 3 paid off, additional phases will be paid off in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
What happens if we exceed the bond amount?
The Board of Education approves the bids for each project. As they decide on each project they are continually monitoring the overall budget to ensure that the costs are not exceeded. Historically, if there is a problem with the cost of a project, budget cuts are then made on that specific project to ensure that all of the projects are completed. The final amount of the bond issue, approved by the voters, is the only money that can be spent on construction. Therefore, the total cost of all projects must remain within that amount.
Is there a neutral number so taxes won’t go up?
Yes. However, that number cannot be determined until the project list is finalized and the timeline for construction on those projects is final. The impact on the tax rate varies dependent on the amount of bonds let, valuation and bonds being retired in a given year. Until a final project list, the cost and timeline for those projects is finalized, it is not possible to determine an exact neutral number. It should be noted that a tax impact could occur during the construction period due to the timing of these factors while being neutral in the end.
Why stop at $115M? What is the maximum amount people will say “too much”?
We are hoping to answer that question through the community feedback sessions and survey. The whole purpose of the community engagement process is to collect feedback and make a decision about a final project list based on that feedback.
Has the district considered separating this into chunks?
Everything is open for discussion at this point and time. However, there is some research that would say two part questions have a higher failure rate than one single question.
Where is all the money going?
The breakdown for the cost of projects is below:
New Elementary School $12.0 M
Middle School Addition $ 5.8 M
High School Addition $53.0 M
Elementary Renovation $27.5 M
Non Instructional Space $ 8.2 M
Technology Infrastructure $ 1.5 M
Land Acquisition $ 7.0 M
Total $115.0 M
What is the cost of the meeting space at the stadium?
How will parking space be maintained at Monarchs?
The architect is currently looking at the parking situation and what needs to be restructured and if additional space needs to be added.
Have we looked at other cost savings within the budget before asking the public for more money? Are there other locations where we can find money to cut rather than having a $115 million bond?
The district is restricted to a $1.05 tax levy for General Fund and Building Fund expenditures combined. The general fund pays for the operation of the district and the building fund can be used for capital construction. Currently the district utilizes all $1.05 for district operations leaving no taxing authority for the building fund. Since we are utilizing the entire $1.05 levying authority for operation costs of the district we are not able to tax for the special building fund. Currently one cent on the levy generates about $500,000. The district would need to reduce operational expenses for any additional taxes levied capital construction.
Does the bond include operating costs?
No. Bond money cannot be used for operational costs.
If bond passes, what are projections for completion dates?
Once a final list of projects is determined, those projects will be placed on a timeline for construction. Construction will be scheduled over the next 5-7 years, depending on the number of final projects.
Have we explored options for donation of land instead of buying land?
Yes. We are also looking for the best possible pricing or free land. As land prices have increased it has been more challenging to get land donated. However, developers have been very generous, selling us a portion of their land at a reduced rate.
What is the thought on the location of the new high school and new middle school?
No land has been purchased so an exact location has not been set. When you look geographically at the district the northern portion of the district is anchored by PLHS. The southwestern portion of the district is anchored by PLSHS. The southeastern portion of the district would probably be the general area we begin to look. The same would be true for middle school.
Is there a plan to have the PowerPoint available to the public?
Yes. It is currently available on the website: www.plcschools.org/bondissue.
Are students being asked for input?
Dr. Rikli meets monthly with a student advisory group that has been very involved in the discussion. Students are also invited to attend all meetings.
Are we making changes and decisions to buildings to make the community feel better or do they truly add appropriate security?
That is exactly the feedback we need from the community. What does the community want and what are you willing to support with a vote.
How are you going to ensure that the public is kept aware of the bond process and that there is an accountability as to how the bond dollars are spent?
All projects are voted on and discussed in a public meeting of the Board of Education. The community is always invited and encouraged to attend. In addition, after the bond issue is approved, regular construction updates will be sent to the community on construction progress.
Safety and Security
Are there silent alarm systems within the elementary schools?
Military impact? Does the movement of military families stay steady?
Many military families move about every 3 years, some stay longer and some leave earlier. However, the overall percentage of military students in PLCS remains steady at approximately 12%.
Challenges in passing past bond issues?
The goal is always to have a successful bond issue. What we have found over the years is that the community needs to be involved early on, similar to the stage this bond issue is in right now. Collecting feedback from the community as to what projects are included in the final bond proposal has served to be beneficial in maintaining a successful pass rate.
Will the expansion of the cafeteria change staffing needs, hours, locations, tasks?
Potentially. As the district continues to grow the number of staff needed in all areas, including the kitchen also grows. Providing the best possible service to the students in the most efficient manner is always a goal and the staffing will be determined with that in mind.
What will the experience for the students be like while construction projects are happening at the schools? Will the learning conditions be negatively impacted?
The projects will be carefully phased so major disruption to a school is done during the summer and over breaks. Anytime construction is happening at a school during a school year there is always some level of disruption but every effort will be made to keep that disruption to a minimum.
If we reuse existing blueprints to save money, will we find ourselves needing to make costly modifications as school needs adjust?
We use the same general floor plan but each time they have been used they have also been updated and adapted to meet the needs of the new school.
Will every elementary school have the controlled entrance? If not, can we add it to the elementary schools left without?
If all of the proposed elementary projects remain in the bond issue, then all of our schools will have a secure entrance and line of sight. However, the controlled entrance of forcing all visitor to enter through the office will not yet be completed everywhere. The majority of the elementary schools proposed in this project for the controlled entrance do not currently have a line of sight. The front office is completely away from the front door. That is not the case with the remaining schools. If you added 5 more projects to the current list, they probably would not be completed prior to the next bond issue.
Will this bond lead to future boundary changes to meet the growing need?
When the new elementary school opens boundaries will need to be adjusted to create an attendance area for the new school. High School boundaries were adjusted last spring in an effort to balance the high school enrollment between the two schools. There are not currently other plans for a boundary change.
Why are there multiple principals in a school when there used to be only one?
Currently, there is one principal, three assistant principals and one assistant principal in charge of athletic and activities at each of the high schools. There has been five at PLHS for over 25 years, PLSHS started with fewer principals but as the enrollment grew principal positions were added to match the other high school. When there were only two middle schools there were six principals between the two, when Liberty opened that number was scaled back to five principals. At the elementary there is one principal for each school until the school exceeds 500 then a part time assistant principal is added.
How about we get rid of some of these principals we don’t need and hire an armed guard?
How schools are staffed is something that is reviewed annually. We are continually looking at the best and most efficient use of resources.
Can we have an itemized list of administrative salaries and teacher salaries?
Yes. The Omaha World Herald has all salaries listed on their website or you can contact the PLCS District office for a list.
How can we access an itemized list of how the District spends its money?
There is information on the District website or you can contact the PLCS District office for details.
Can we see past bond issue finances?
Yes. Please contact the PLCS District office for details.
What is the purpose of replacing the cross walk between the PMS and the Central Office?
The over pass project is actually a City of Papillion project not a school district project. PLCS was very supportive of this project being completed because we believe it keeps our students safe when crossing 84th street.
Does this bond apply to administrative salaries or other salaries?
No. Bond fund money cannot be used to pay operational costs.
What is the rationale of having the finishing kitchens?
The finishing kitchens provide an extra entrée choice, which is prepared at the school and it provides permanent ware eliminating the styrofoam trays and plastic silverware.
Who came up with the original list? Were there other changes that didn’t make the list?
The final list was developed by the Board of Education after input from the high school visioning process, the facility study process, the ongoing maintenance plan report and feedback from staff via school principals. There was nothing significant that was left off the list but the goal of this process is to collect feedback from the community on what should be included.
Are they looking to do a 1:1 with HS students?
A 1:1 initiative may have its benefits, but when you consider the cost of purchase and the staff training, it is not fiscally possible at this time. Instead, the goal is to leverage the technology we currently have in the best possible way to impact student learning.
What’s the plan for increasing devices at the secondary level?
The next purchase for the secondary level is scheduled for spring of 2018 with an implementation of Fall 2018. The District is currently undergoing a technology audit to see what are the needs and current use for staff and students. Information from this audit will be used to determine next steps prior to the new purchase.
What are the specifics of the technology enhancements?
The technology enhancements are for infrastructure not computers. The main purpose of the infrastructure upgrades is to increase our speed and reliability of the current technology. There are four main areas that will be addressed: Internal Building Cabling: allows us to take advantage of any additional bandwidth we are attempting to leverage with new access points for wireless or additional devices in the building. Switches: necessary equipment to increase our network bandwidth backbone from 1 Gig to 10 Gig. The Data Center: master/core switches will allow for increased 10 Gig capacity district-wide. Having redundant core/master switches will increase reliability and performance in an increasingly diverse and growing network. Additional virtualized servers will allow server services to be consolidated which will add to efficiency of the network and systems, modernize equipment so that it can handle future updates, and add protection against external data breach threats. Fiber: building redundancy within the system and increasing the capacity of the system to handle increasingly diverse needs. The addition of the fiber will be the beginning phases of developing a ring topology. This will allow for a great amount of functions to be performed concurrently without bogging down the network and inhibiting learning in the classroom.