Lamar District School Board Receives Best Grant, Needs Matching Funds

Lamar High School



Lamar High School and Lincoln School are in dire need of infrastructure upgrades. The RE-2 District School Board approved a resolution during their August 13th meeting to place a question on the November 6th ballot to secure the balance of funds needed to complete a BEST Cash Grant Award to pay for the project.

The total project cost is $8,357,099 and $4,429,262 has been awarded to the district, contingent on being able to provide the balance of $3,927,837 in matching funds. That will be up to the voters in the district to decide on November 6th.

Lamar School Superintendent, David Tecklenburg told The Prowers Journal, the need for repairs and upgrades with both schools has been a growing concern. “Lincoln School was built in 1948 and the high school opened its doors in 1968.  The board decided it was better to address all the repairs at one time instead of separately, although not all of the construction will be done at the same time,” he explained.

The list of repairs is lengthy, from poor indoor air quality requiring new HVAC systems in both schools to, as Tecklenburg explained; one room may be at 76 degrees while another room just a few doors down is considerably lower. Both schools are still using single paned windows which allow heat to escape in the winter, exterior doors are lacking proper security, there are inadequate fire response systems, electrical distribution improvements are needed as well as an abatement for hazardous materials and a new and more reliable security camera system is required which will allow 24/7 monitoring from the local emergency call center.

The BEST or Building Excellent Schools Today grant has been used in Prowers County before, including two new schools, Alta Vista and the school in Holly. State funds make the BEST program a reality, but the voters will have to decide on matching funds in November to secure the grant, brought about through the efforts of the district school board.

Terms of the 20 year bond will require an annual payment of approximately $270,000 which translates to a mill levy increase in the district of .00323 of assessed property value. This means the average residential taxpayer will be assed less than $20 per year.  Current homeowners would pay an increase of $17.44 if their house was valued at $75,000.  A house valued at $100,000 would pay a tax of $23.20 per year.  Taxes on commercial, agricultural or industrial properties fall into a higher category where a market or production value equates to $92.80 at $100,000 valuation.

Tecklenburg said BEST grants were used several years ago for upgrades to Washington, Parkview and the Middle School, but the match was only 19% on a smaller cost, not like the 47% that will have to be approved in the November election. He said if the bond measure fails, the school board will have to find some other means of financing the upgrades and replacements, but if nothing is done, there is the possibility that the district won’t be able to use the schools until improvements have been done.

Work in Progress of School Roof

“We plan to hold some public forums and a question and answer meeting for the community, and perhaps provide some tours of the boiler facilities to give the public an idea of our needs,” he said, but no specific dates have been set for that at this time. Area residents have noted the roof repairs that have been underway at the high school for the past month.  Tecklenburg explained that was from hail damage last August and the project is costing over a million dollars, but insurance coverage is taking care of those bills.

Once the full grant has been secured the first approach will be for boiler replacements, probably in April when they are no longer in use and by the time school is out for the summer, Tecklenburg said as much work as possible will be done May through August of next year.

By Russ Baldwin


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