Board considers different scenarios for capital plan | News, Sports, Jobs

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After much discussion, the Lee County School Board set a reserve target of 7-8 percent reserves and moved the East Technical Center into the first five years of its 10-year capital plan.

CFO Dr. Ami Desamours said that in focusing on the capital city plan, the district is addressing its priorities, including security, providing more student seating, servicing, technology and proper asset maintenance. All of this falls into a five to ten year plan, as the process of planning a building, renovating or expanding it takes longer.

“Because long-term plans are based on a number of assumptions, they may or may not materialize.” Desamours said, adding that they will continue to evaluate and update the plan if necessary.

To help with some of these capital projects, the county can use the half-cent-penny sales tax revenue for the next seven years, with an estimated $ 87.3 million for the next year. It is assumed that the total allotment will increase by 3 to 4 percent in the remaining years.

The first scenario presented included a reserve of 5.06 percent after 5 years and 7.69 percent after 10 years. That would include a $ 68 million reduction in years one through five to reach the 8 percent reserve.

The district currently has 9.5 percent reserves with a history of 8 to 10 percent.

The plans include seven projects to be completed in the East Zone, including two elementary schools, the K-8 innovation school, two middle schools, one middle school, one high school, Veterans Park / Old LAMS and the East Technical Center over the next 10 years.

“In this version, the East Technical Center plans to open in the second five years of the plan at the cost of $ 80 million built into this plan.” said Desamours.

In the West Zone, this includes two high school entrances and the Cape Coral Technical College.

The South Zone includes a K-8 in Estero, an extension to the high school, the rebuilding of Franklin Park, the rebuilding of Cypress Lake Middle School, and the remodeling of Fort Myers Technical College.

There is no north zone.

“Many of the new schools and remodeling will take the next 10 years. A considerable number of schools have been built here. . . over 900 million US dollars investment costs in this “, said Desamours. “It will most likely become even more expensive as higher cost escalations are expected in the near future. With the buildings in this plan and assuming the student growth forecast, the portable devices will be (removed) in most locations by fiscal 2026. Not that they may never be used again, but no plan for fiscal year 2026 for permanence. “

In the first scenario, the total new Certificates of Participation (COPs) is $ 856.4 million. She said the district will repay $ 470 million in the short time they have the remaining sales tax.

“The debt talk is important to make sure we are financially responsible.” said Desamours. “All school projects cost $ 856 million. So many police officers would be taken out. (We would) pay back the remaining $ 400 million debt after our sales tax period ends. “

Board member Cathleen O’Daniel Morgan said she wanted the East Technical Center to be moved up for the first five years, not the last five years. She said the entire cost of the center is not the burden of the district.

“I want it to be pushed up on time” said Morgan.

Board member Mary Fischer agreed that due to the demands of the workforce and the economy, the opening of the center is not something the district can wait for.

Desamours said they can definitely create another scenario that the center would kick off in the first five years. She said that they will be working with a different scenario that has scope, which is easily pushing them up with reserves.

In the second scenario, reserves remained at 3.8 percent after five years and 6.49 percent after ten years, with the plan having to be reduced by $ 93 million in years one through five to add a reserve of 9 percent to reach. Add to that $ 429 million in sales tax debt.

Desamours said this scenario involves increasing the cost of projects as well as changing the construction schedule for the East Technical Center, adding additional debt.

The third scenario, which Desamours did not recommend, would leave the district with 13 percent reserves after five years and almost 12 percent after 10 years. The debt would be spread over 20 years. Desamours said this scenario would cost the district an additional $ 100 million as it would be in debt over a long period of time.

In all three scenarios, the district will almost completely reduce the number of portable devices across the district and will have allocated $ 635 million to maintenance projects, an increase of 2.5 times the cost of maintaining schools over the past 10 years equates to $ 65 million for security projects and $ 3.3 million for technology.

“One of the things we need to talk about is cost escalation. (We need to) determine how to deal with changes in costs. We anticipated escalating costs, which could make it necessary for us to return to the board if the costs are significantly higher. “ said Desamours.

The board of directors has been informed that, due to escalating costs, they may have to decide to continue, postpone or cancel a project.

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