Considering a school bond issue? Here’s the first thing you should do

It’s no secret that quality schools and thriving communities go hand-in-hand. High-performing schools affect property values, contribute to the quality of the workforce and have a positive impact on the local economy, among other benefits.

Dennis Wilson, director of new project development and K-12 market segment leader, Granger Construction

The quality of facilities is an integral component in the mix of factors that combine to form a high-quality school district. District superintendents, local school board members and citizens recognize that having great facilities is instrumental to achieving and maintaining a successful school district.

Additionally, today’s schools of choice environment has increased the need for districts to focus on facilities in order to maintain, or even increase, student enrollment.

And, if you needed any more reason to consider the important role facilities play in education, a recent CNN story posits that the way educational buildings are designed can have a huge influence on learning.

Armed with this knowledge, how does a school district begin to explore a possible bond issue to upgrade and improve their facilities?

Facilities studies are key

Often, the first step in the bond issue process is to have a facilities study completed. Conducted by companies like Granger Construction, a facilities study is a great way to understand your district’s needs and issues. Construction professionals evaluate your existing facilities and develop a prioritized list for districts to use throughout the process.

“A facilities study provides an order of magnitude to project service life of each facility and identify the steps needed to extend that life,” said Dennis Wilson, director of new project development and K-12 market segment leader at Granger Construction. “This information can provide a road map to expected capital expenditures and provides the necessary facts to support a bond proposition or escalation in operating cost.”

On average, a facilities study may take 2-3 months to complete and generally provides a district with critical information about the state of its buildings, mechanical systems, and energy usage.

“Typical findings from a facilities study may indicate high energy consumption, systems that are not running optimally or on the verge of failure and items in need of repairs and/or replacement,” said Wilson. “Discoveries such as the reason utility costs continue to escalate, poor or ineffective maintenance programs and shortfalls in operating budget are common.”

Oftentimes, the cost of a facilities study may be diverted and rolled into the bond issue – a process that can take anywhere from six months to a year of planning. Companies like Granger also provide bond services designed to help districts navigate the complex process and position themselves for success come election time. In the last 15 years of working with school districts throughout Michigan, Granger has an impressive bond passage rate of 80 percent.

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