Bond Q&A

How much will the project cost?
The Capital Improvement Project totals $39,140,000, which will be partially funded through New York State Building Aid at a rate of 68% of the aidable cost of $27.7 million. The average cost to a home assessed at $2,280 per year, results in approximately $43 per year. With voter approval, we will apply $7.9 million from our Capital Reserve Savings Fund.  The Fund is a savings account that was established a number of years ago to address the needs identified in this project.  

What is the status of our prior bonds? 
There are currently two prior bonds that will be paid off by 2021.  Although there remains a cost, this debt will end.  The proposed bond will replace a portion of the previous bonds.  Our total debt will NOT INCREASE but in fact, WILL DECREASE. The district’s excellent credit rating and record low-interest rates will have a profound impact on reducing the cost of borrowing.

Why not fund repairs and renovations through the annual budget?
Large building projects, such as the roofs, windows, and parking lots are too costly to include in a school district annual budget.  Through a bond vote, we take advantage of state building aid while spreading the cost over 15 years at historically low borrowing rates.   As part of a bond project, site work is eligible for building aid when it is linked to capital work being done at the same school. This amounts to millions of dollars that will be funded by the state, and not directly from property taxpayers, which would not be aided as part of our annual budget.

How does investing in our schools benefit me?
Investing in our district benefits the entire community!  By working together, schools, families, and communities can prepare for a more promising future.  We protect our property values, and by providing our 9,300 students with the educational environment they deserve, we support their future.  Research has shown that students who are supported by their communities attend school regularly, earn higher grades and test scores, graduate and attend college.  Linking the community to our schools positively impacts academic achievement and reduces school suspension rates.

Investments in education benefit taxpayers because the investments produce more highly educated individuals, who tend to earn more income than those with lower levels of education.  Additionally, highly educated individuals are less likely to draw on social support programs and are less likely to commit crimes.  High-performing districts are safer communities which result in increased property values that attract families and business owners who feel an advantage by working and contributing to our school community.

Why are the costs of the projects so high?
School buildings are considered commercial buildings, not residential buildings.  Schools are concrete not wood, and must follow strict state guidelines including building codes, fire and burglar alarms, energy codes, roof warranties, and the buildings must meet ADA safety requirements required by state and federal statutes.  To compare costs, a residential home costs approximately $150-200 per square foot; the cost of a school building can cost approximately $300-400 a square foot.  By law, we are required to adhere to New York State Education Department (NYSED) guidelines, and bid out projects, and they must be paid by prevailing wage, which is dictated by New York State.

How are costs determined in the bond?

The costs of the project are estimates based on current commercial market prices.  Since the projects will not begin for at least a year, the estimates include escalation costs.  After the NYSED approves the projects, there is a bid process as required by law with the lowest responsible bidder awarded.  We are not permitted to bid jobs before NYSED approval.  

Why is there a need for a Central Administration building?
Currently, all district directors are housed separately in various school buildings.  With an expected increase in student enrollment, classroom space in our elementary schools may be compromised.  With all district directors and central office personnel housed in one location, our elementary schools will have an additional 5,000 square feet of instructional space districtwide preventing overcrowding in classrooms.  This final phase of the long-term infrastructure renovation will allow for streamline communication between districtwide Administration, grades K-12. 

In early 2001, the district underwent a major infrastructure expansion to provide our students and staff with the space required for an excellent educational experience.  As always, providing the very best for our students and staff remains the goal of the Board of Education and Central Administration.  As part of the 20-year infrastructure plan, the Central Office complex is the last property to be renovated.  

Central Office is comprised of three separate buildings residing on the same piece of property: the front building, which was converted into office space, is a designated historic site which is more than 100-years-old.  This building will remain but will be dedicated as a community resource center in the future.  

The middle building, constructed in 1972, has been the primary complex housing the superintendent, two assistant superintendents, and staff.  The building also houses the business office which currently serves more than 9,300 students, 1,800 employees, seven campuses, 17 buildings within 53 square miles.  The building is in dire need of renovation, which may be too costly to complete.

There is also a converted construction trailer on the property which was donated to the district at the conclusion of the last major renovation.  This trailer houses the assistant superintendent of human resources, personnel, and staff. Why are we voting in October?
Due to the deterioration of the Junior High School roof, as well as several critical health and safety concerns, it is important that we begin work in the summer of 2019.  The lengthy approval process from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) dictates an early fall vote to ensure a spring/summer 2019 start date. 

Where will administration be housed while construction is underway?
The housing location of Central Administration personnel is yet to be determined.

Will special education directors be included in the move to a new administration building?
The location of special education directors is yet to be determined.

When the roof at the JHS and carpet at the MS are being replaced where will the programs that are held there during the summer be moved to?
The students at the Junior High School may be temporarily housed at the Middle School or High School.  Students at the Middle School will not be affected since that particular part of the building will not be used during renovation.

With the playgrounds being replaced will there be adaptive equipment included in the new design?
The District will adhere to ADA guidelines for the new playgrounds.

How does the tax assessment/increase affect renters?
Since renters do not pay property taxes, they will not be directly affected.

Will the front building that is going to be used as a community resource building be made handicap accessible?
Since the front building has been designated as a historical site, we are not sure what type of changes will be made to the building.  We will look into making the building handicapped accessible as we move forward in the process.

Since we are using all of our capital reserve savings for this, what happens if something else is needed how would it be funded?
As part of the District’s five-year plan, the district forecasts projects that will need to be addressed in the future. Voters approved a new capital reserve fund in May 2017 that was established to offset any projects that may arise in the future.

It has been stated that the interest rate is low at this time so it is a good time to borrow, since the project is over several years and the money is not borrowed all at one time, is there something built in the bond to account for an increase in the interest rate?
Depending on what is happening in the market, the district may borrow all at once or in separate issues.  Projections include borrowing at two separate times.  The interest rates used in our projections are a conservative number that was provided to the district by our fiscal advisors.

The proposed Bond would be for $12.4 million or $39.1 million?
The net cost of the bond is $12.4 million.  The total project is $39.1 million. However, the district will apply the $7,950,000 from the capital reserve and borrow the remaining $31,190,000.

What are the terms of the proposed Bond; rate (fixed for term?), term, amortization? Fixed rate, and is amortized over the life of the bond? 
The $31,190,000 School District Serial Bonds will be issued as General Obligations of the School District, the term will be 15 years, at a fixed rate, the rate will be determined at the day of the sale. 

Which institution is issuing the Bond? 

The district is the issuer of the bond. 

Is the district pledging any collateral or assets to secure the Bond?
No. The district does not pledge collateral or assets. The Bonds are general obligations of the Longwood Central School District, Suffolk County, New York. The District has pledged its faith and credit for the payment of the principal thereof and interest thereon and, unless paid from other sources, the Bonds are payable from ad valorem taxes which may be levied upon all the taxable real property within the District without limitation as to rate or amount.

The newsletter states that two existing bonds will be paid off by 2021, I'm not understanding how replacing a portion of these existing bonds with the newly issued Bond will result in a decrease in total district debt.  Will payments on the existing bonds decrease? Please explain the existing and new debt structure in greater detail.
The two bonds that are retiring are a little over $62 million. The new $31.2 bond is about half of that amount.  

How will the additional debt expense effect the district's debt service coverage? 
Debt Service coverage rate usually refers to Revenue Bonds, which are not being issued in this case. However, the district has a debt limit of $569,665,077. If the district were to borrow today, the district’s total net indebtedness would be approximately $96,895,000. The district will be nowhere close to exhausting its debt limit. 

Can a portion of the bond go towards improving our educational programs and curriculum?

Unfortunately, a bond can only be used to pay for capital projects such as construction and repairs.  We are not permitted to borrow money for educational programs or staffing. Educational programs must be funded through our regular budgets.

The bond includes districtwide heating, ventilation, and cooling system upgrades. Which cooling systems are included in the bond?
The cooling systems are replacement units located at the High School, Junior High School, Middle School, CEW PC, Ridge PC and WMI IC.

We have four elementary schools, yet there are 11 playgrounds listed to be replaced. Where are they located?
Each one of our five Elementary Schools (including the Middle School), has two playgrounds, except CEW which has three playgrounds.

Who will be utilizing the new turf fields?
The school district athletic teams will have priority use of the turf fields.  However, all of our community organizations will be able to utilize all of our athletic facilities upon availability scheduled through our Athletic Department.  
Why doesn't the district seek and get NYSED approval before asking us to vote on the Bond? 
Although the District does not get formal approval from NYSED, our District architect is in contact with them when formulating the project.  Formal approval would require architectural drawings and plans which the district would have to pay for which is part of the bond cost that needs voter approval.
What if the voters approve the Bond and the NYSED does not approve all or parts of the project? 
The District’s architect has submitted thousands of projects for his clients to the state over the years.  The NYSED may ask for some modifications, but all of Longwood’s projects have always been approved. If the NYSED were to deny any of our projects, the project could not be done. The district does not foresee any of the projects having a problem getting approval for NYSED.  

This would also appear to effect the amount of money we would receive from the State to fund the project if portions of the project were rejected. 
The District receives building aid based on actual expenses of a given project.  On the off chance that there was a portion of a project that was not fully approved, there would be no expense and therefore no aid for that portion of the project. 

What is the video streaming technology?
The new Snap Stream K-12 educational technology will provide high-definition streaming and will enable teachers to distribute live or recorded TV, stream morning announcements, multicast live TV broadcasts to classrooms, and upload daily lessons or school activities for on-demand viewing.

What is the multipurpose turf field? 

To accommodate the District’s numerous athletic teams and prevent scheduling conflicts, the multi-purpose turf field will allow additional space for the high school’s lacrosse, soccer and football teams.  The additional space will also provide access to community athletic groups.

Why are we replacing the Junior High School roof at this time?
The roof being replaced is more than 20 years old.  It has exceeded its warranty period and is well beyond its expected lifespan.  Its replacement has been anticipated and is included in our required five-year facilities plan, which is updated annually.  Additionally, the roof will be equipped with solar panels which will provide energy efficiency and cost savings.

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