Please submit your questions about the April 4, 2017 referenda here. We will update the FAQ webpage on a regular basis. Click on the topic below to be taken to questions specific to that category.
Q: What is on the April 4, 2017 ballot?
A: Residents will have the opportunity to vote on two related facilities questions and one operational question:
Question #1: New High School on district-owned land for 2,200 students, renovations to the existing high school and Badger Ridge Middle School buildings, and district-wide maintenance
Tax Impact: $0.42/year per $1000 of fair market property value
Question #2: Swimming pool (no splash pad) and competition athletic fields and related facilities at the new High School
Tax Impact: $0.37/year per $1000 of fair market property value
Question #3: Funding for operational expenses for new facilities and grounds
Cost: $2.3M annually, on a recurring basis (effective in 2020-21)
Tax Impact: $0.58/year per $1000 of fair market property value
Q: What will the actual ballot look like?
A: Click here to view the referenda questions as they will appear on the ballot.
Q: What happens if Question #2 (pool/competition fields)passes but Question #1 does not?
A: The District would not build a swimming pool or athletic competition fields and related facilities (Question #2) without community approval of Question #1 to build the new Verona Area High School.
Q: What happens if Question #1 and #2 (facilities) pass but #3 (operational funding) does not?
A: The Board can approve a ballot resolution and referendum question in the subsequent year that would ask for community approval of operational expenses to support the new facilities, scheduled to open in 2020.
Q: What are the projected operational expenses for the new facilities and grounds?
A: Operational expenses for custodial staff, maintenance and utilities to support the new facilities and grounds total approximately $2.3 million annually.
Q: Why is question #3 regarding operations so expensive?
A: Operational expenses for custodial staff, maintenance and utilities to support the new facilities and grounds total approximately $2.3 million annually (these costs would not take effect until 2020 when the new high school opens). The large majority of these dollars will be directed to custodian/maintenance costs. To put the project into perspective, our district currently covers 900,000 square feet of space, covering approximately 200 acres that we mow, plow and overall maintain year-round. The new high school is more than 500,000 square feet of space, including an ADDITIONAL 108 acres. Even with the removal of the facilities for Sugar Creek Elementary & New Century Charter School (those students are moving into another existing facility and those buildings go offline), we are still increasing our square footage and acreage by over 50%, which means hiring additional staff, and maintaining the additional square footage (indoor and out).
In addition, with the relocation of the high school, transportation costs have to be accounted for as we cannot use the same number of buses to haul students who attend the high school or the adjacent two schools on the same campus (currently, the HS, Badger Ridge Middle School and Core Knowledge Charter School could use same buses).
Lastly, due to the new high school location, there will be a need to add some additional storage on that new land for custodial/maintenance and grounds equipment.
COST AND TAX IMPACT QUESTIONS
Q: What is the overall estimated tax increase over the current 2016-17 tax level?
Q: When will the tax increase take effect?
A: If approved, District residents would first note the impact of:
Questions 1 and 2 on the December 2017-18 tax bill. This is a phased borrowing over a 3-year period (2017-2019) with each borrowing paid back over a 20-year period.
Question 3 on the December 2020-21 tax bill and thereafter on a recurring (ongoing) basis.
Q: Are the estimated tax impacts additive (does it increase year over year)?
A: No. The estimated tax impacts for Questions 1 and 2 are consistent from one year to the next as stated in the chart below and based on individual property value. This borrowing will be phased in over a 3-year period, with each borrowing paid back over a 20-year period.
The estimated tax impact for Question 3 would also remain consistent from one year to the next, but is called “recurring,” meaning it becomes a permanent increase to the school tax rate beginning in 2020-21.
Q: Would the school tax rate go down if the referendum did NOT pass?
A: Yes. The current (2016-17) school tax rate is $11.98 per $1,000 of fair market property value. If the referendum questions are not approved by the community, the estimated school tax rate for 2017-18 would be $9.44 per $1,000 of fair market property value.
Q: Why is the tax impact related to a much larger project (Q#1 for $162.8M) only slightly more than the tax impact related to a less costly project (Q#2 for $18.5M)?
Question #1 | Cost: $162.8M
Question #2 |Cost: $18.5M
A: The City of Verona created a Tax Increment District (TID) to provide infrastructure improvements for the EPIC campus. Once the City recouped the funds associated with those improvements, the TID closed and the property value associated with that development is returned to the tax rolls. That closure occurred in 2016, resulting in a sizable increase total property valuation for Verona Area School District.
The increase in property valuation creates an opportunity for the District to complete approximately $140,000,000 of building projects and have no impact over our current (2016-17) tax rate. The tax impact for Q#1 takes this into consideration, so the impact over the current tax rate is really associated only with the amount of the project in excess of $140M (or $22.8M).
The District would not build the swimming pool or competition athletic fields and related facilities without constructing the new high school, so none of the 'credit' of the $140M is applied to the pool/competition athletic fields as it's all applied to Question #1 (new High School, School Renovations, and District-wide Maintenance).
Q: What is the estimated school tax rate after 2020-2021 if all three referendum questions are approved by the community?
A: It is challenging to look out further than five years as there are many variables that can affect future tax rates, such as changes in state law, new state budget cycles, economic changes and actual student enrollment. It’s important to note that the impact of approval of the facilities questions #1 & #2 are each 20-year borrowings (phased in over 3 years) that extends the debt service tax rate impact into 2038-2039. The approval of recurring funding for the operational expenses are a permanent increase over the revenue limit cap.
Q: What happens if the projected “growth” slows down?
A: The estimated tax impacts for the referendum questions are based on projected annual equalized property growth of 2.75% in 2017, 3% for 2018-2024, and 0% thereafter. If the equalized property growth is lower than predicted, the tax rate impact would be higher than projected; if equalized property growth is higher than predicted, the tax rate impact would be lower than projected.
Q: What is the difference between “fair market property value” and “assessed property value”?
A: Fair market property value (FMV) is the agreed upon valuation, or price, between a property buyer and seller and is calculated by licensed property appraisers. Fair market value is based on a number of factors, including size, features and condition of the property, supply and demand in the local housing market and recent market history.
An assessed property value is the valuation placed on a property by a public tax assessor to determine a homeowner's annual property tax. Assessed value is always a percentage of the property's fair market value (which varies from state to state) typically calculated as 80 percent to 90 percent of fair market value, and then impose a 1 percent to 2 percent annual property tax on the assessed value.
The assessed property value and fair market property value both serve a different function and purpose of importance to a homeowner: one is used by local government and the other is used by consumers and mortgage lenders.
Q: How much debt is the District currently carrying?
A: The District’s current referendum-approved debt is approximately $4.8 million. The Board of Education’s strategy is to minimize fluctuations in the school tax rate and maintain a level rate rate year over year, if possible. By doing so, the District has been able to prepay existing debt; the District has reduced interest cost by nearly $4.3 million through either prepayments or refinancings done over the last 5 years.
Q: What assumptions are used to determine the estimated tax impacts for the facilities and operational referendum questions?
A: Key assumptions include:
Estimated tax impacts shown are per $1,000 of Fair Market Property Value and represent the incremental amount over the 2016-17 VASD tax rate.
Interest rates ranging from 4.00% to 5.00%.
Annual Equalized Property Growth: 2.75% in 2017; 3.00% in 2018-2024;0.00% thereafter.
State Aid based on projected tertiary reimbursement of -25%.
Phased borrowing approach over a 3 year period (2017-2019) with each borrowing paid back over a 20-year period.
The illustrations are intended to estimate the increase in the referendum portion of the tax bill only. Does not include property taxes paid to other governments (e.g. City, County, Technical College District, etc.). Actual tax rates and payments may vary based on equalized valuation growth, individual homeowner reassessment, State Law changes, property tax rate initiatives, and other factors, as well as changes in the assumptions.
This Information was prepared by PMA Securities, Inc. (“PMA”), as Financial Advisor, at the request of, and is being provided to, the listed school district (the District) for its Institutional Investor Use to provide factual information to its taxpayers and the general public as part of a referendum being placed on a bond ballot election. This information is being provided for informational and/or educational purposes only without regard to any particular viewer’s financial situation or means. The content of this information is not to be construed as a recommendation by PMA that the viewer take an action or refrain from taking an action, or as a solicitation or offer to buy or sell any security, financial product or instrument. Nor does it constitute any legal, tax, accounting or investment advice of services regarding the suitability or profitability of any security or investment. Viewers should consult with their own tax and/or legal advisors before making any decisions.
Although the information contained in this Information has been obtained from third-party sources believed to be reliable as of the date hereof, PMA cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information. It is understood that PMA is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the content in this document and the information is being provided to you on an “as is” basis without warranties or representations of any kind. Moreover, use of this information after the date hereof is subject to change.
Q: How did the 2015 Land Referendum impact taxes?
A: In April 2015, the community approved spending $8.35 million to purchase three parcels of land. The Vanta/Erbach properties (also referred to as “West-End”) is the proposed site for the new Verona Area High School and the Herfel property will be retained for future school needs. The tax impact at the time of the referendum was $15 per $100,000 of property value.
In spring 2017, the District will prepay all remaining debt related to this approved land purchase, saving District taxpayers over $300,000 in interest costs.
Q: What if a project doesn’t cost as much as the referendum is asking for?
A: Ballot questions are structured in a manner to ensure enough dollars are being requested to cover the costs of the desired projects.
Q: Why is the Board proposing a new High School when it appears as though the crowding is currently at the elementary level?
A: The proposed plan for a new High School and renovations to the existing HS/Badger Ridge Middle School & Core Knowledge Charter School buildings expands our overall capacity district-wide and provides a long-term solution that considers all students, K-12. Between 2016 and 2030 grades 9-12 are projected to increase by 671 resident students. This is the largest projected increase of any of the three grade levels. Finally, the current high school is currently overcrowded in core areas with limited opportunity to expand these key spaces.
Q: How was the overall size, educational space, and extra-curricular/athletic components for the new High School determined?
A: The new High School was planned around academic and program goals, amenities to support extra-curricular, co-curricular and athletic programs, and projected growth. This was a collaborative effort between the Board, district administrators and planning architects from Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA).
A conceptual plan for the new High School was created taking into account projected enrollment in 2020, when the proposed new High School would be completed, as well as projected enrollment growth through 2030. It is a long-range plan with core spaces (cafeteria, gym, library, etc.) designed to accommodate projected enrollments and capacity for 2500 students, and the potential to add a classroom wing in the future, as enrollments grow. This plan reduces the potential need for additional new facilities before 2030.
Q: Given concerns for the cost to renovate the K-wing, why is this now being considered as part of the proposed K-12 facilities plan?
A: Renovating the K-wing utilizes an existing building and provides additional classroom space for K-5 and K-8 charter school(s) adjacent to the middle school. In discussion with administrators and charter directors it was a priority to maximize classrooms with windows/daylight, provide adjacency to academic spaces and shared staff, and allow for future growth of the charter school(s). The team re-evaluated the cost-benefit of upgrades to the K-wing as part of a comprehensive K-12 solution and considered this a practical solution. Utilizing this space delays the need to build additional schools further into the future and allows time to respond to enrollment growth projections.
Q: Can the question #1 High School project scope be reduced?
A: The Board and administration carefully evaluated the appropriate programs, space needs and amenities for a new High School. In addition, they considered the most efficient, long-range solution to prepare for projected growth and then weighed all factors and options against future construction costs and current, low interest rates. The proposed solution represents a comprehensive K-12 facilities plan for students and community.
Q: Why isn’t the auditorium shown on the conceptual site plan for the new High School?
A: The specific location of the auditorium (also known as the Performing Arts Center) will be determined in the design phase following community approval. It is not illustrated on the conceptual site plan however, the auditorium is included in the construction of the new High School (Q#1).
Q: Is the access road to the new High School location part of the referendum tax impact?
A: No. The preliminary “Future Access Road” noted on the conceptual site plan is NOT part of the referendum project scope.. The District is working in partnership with the City of Verona and the adjacent property owner, The Coating Place, on potential options for location and construction of an access road if the community approves the referendum.
Q: Will the District include air conditioning as part of the referendum?
A: No. However, the Board has approved the use of general funds allocated for capital maintenance and AC upgrades in three buildings to improve air quality: Verona Area High School (including K-wing), Badger Ridge Middle School, and Stoner Prairie Elementary School.
Q: Site plans are labeled “Conceptual.” When will we see design drawings that show actual location of buildings and amenities?
A: Following an approved referendum, the District will engage architectural services to provide specific building layout and design. The Architectural Design Timeline provides an overview of this post-referendum work and is highly reflective of a collaborative, year-long design process with our staff.
Q: How will the existing swimming pool be used if the community approves the construction of a swimming pool at the new High School?
A: The existing pool is nearly 40 years old, with a 20-year-old pool floor base, requiring approximately $700,000 in repairs to make it viable for the next 10-12 years. Decisions regarding maintenance upgrades and the future use of the existing pool will be determined by the Board following the community’s decision on Question #1 and Question #2 on April 4 and the assessment of District and community demand for pool use.
Q: Can the proposed swimming pool at the new High School be used by the community?
A: Yes, the proposed swimming pool would be a community amenity for age-group swimming, recreational swimming, as well as for high school physical education, District and regional competitions, and the practice venue for the Verona Area High School Swim and Diving Teams.
Q: What is included in the proposed swimming pool at the new High School?
A: The swimming pool includes:
- Eight (8) lane, 25 meter pool with moveable bulkhead to allow 25 yard high school competition with “zero depth” entry lane for ADA accessibility;
- Locker rooms to accommodate student, team and community; Spectator seating, concession and pre-function space; and
- Office, storage, equipment and mechanical spaces
Q: Is a splash pad part of the proposed new swimming pool?
A: No, a splash pad is NOT part of the proposed swimming pool project at the new High School.
Q: For Question #2 on the ballot, what does “related facilities” mean?
A: “Related facilities” refers to support spaces and facilities such as restrooms, locker rooms, spectator seating, press and ticket box, concessions, and other amenities commonly associated with a swimming pool or athletic competition fields.
Q: What happens if the community does not approve question #2 (Swimming Pool & Athletic Competition Fields)?
A: Students and athletes will have access to practice fields and tennis courts at the new high school (included in the project scope of Question #1) but would need to use the existing football/track and swimming pool at the current high school if Question #2 is not approved by the community. This will require the need to transport students in order to access these venues.
Q: Are you exploring any potential partnerships for the pool?
A: Any partnerships for potential projects in the future are contingent on community approval of Question #1 and Question #2. The board is interested in exploring viable partnerships that may lead to expanded facilities/programs and align with District goals and community priorities.
Q: What is a Tax Increment District (TID)?
A: A TID allows municipalities to capture additional tax revenues generated by economic development projects. Revenues are used to pay back municipal funds used to facilitate the development (most often investments in infrastructure). In Verona, Tax Increment District (TID) No. 7 was created in 2002 to support infrastructure for the Epic campus. It is the third largest TID in Wisconsin (Department of Revenue data) and the City of Verona adopted a resolution on May 9, 2016 to close TID No. 7.
Q. What is the effect of the Epic TID (No. 7) on our community and schools?
A: TID No. 7 was closed in 2016, increasing the District’s Equalized Valuation by approximately $393 million. There was additional growth of nearly $340 million elsewhere in the District, bringing the total growth in Equalized Valuation to 23.5% for 2016.
With such a large increase in Equalized Valuation, the District will appear more “property rich,” as measured by equalized valuation per student (even with no corresponding increase in student enrollment). This will lead to a decrease in State Equalization Aid, with the biggest loss in State Aid expected in 2017-18.
Q. How will the the Epic TID (No. 7) closeout funds be spent?
A: The estimated TID closeout funds of $11.3M will be disbursed to the District in March or April 2017. The District Board considered many options for how those funds will be spent and decided that $2.6 million will be spent on technology needs. If the community approves the referendum, $6.5 million would be spent on renovations to the High School K-wing as well as air conditioning added where it’s needed throughout the district. The remaining funds will be left for the Board to determine direction.
If the referendum does not pass, how the TID funds will be spent is to be determined by the Board.
Q: What will be done with Sugar Creek and New Century after students are relocated to the renovated spaces on the existing Badger Ridge/High School campus?
A: The Board and district administrators are working together with City of Verona officials on a potential exchange of the Sugar Creek and New Century buildings/property for the construction of an access road on the new High School site.These are preliminary conversations pending community approval of the April 4, 2017 referenda.
Q: Has the District factored in transportation costs related to the transport of athletes to competition fields if Question #2 for the Swimming Pool/Outdoor Athletic Competition Fields is not approved by the community?
A: The Board is aware there will be additional costs associated with transportation and will manage this through operational funding.
Q: Will my child(ren) be re-districted to another school if the comprehensive K-12 facilities plan is approved?
A: The Board of Education will be required to examine and adjust school boundaries with or without the April 4 referenda in order to manage projected growth. The Board will prioritize boundary changes that are the least disruptive to students, staff and families and provide the longest-term solution.
Q: When will traffic flow for parent/visitor and bus circulation be determined?
A: Traffic circulation at the proposed new High School and campus for Badger Ridge Middle School/Charter School(s) and Sugar Creek Elementary School will be considered following an approved referenda. Evaluation and planning priorities include safety, accessibility, efficient traffic flow, and separation of parent/visitor and bus vehicles. This typically occurs in conjunction with site layout on new construction sites and during the renovation design process for existing buildings and sites.
Q: Was any consideration given to separating VASD into Verona and Fitchburg Districts?
A: Boundary decisions made many years ago along with current state legislation makes the creation of a new school District extremely difficult. This initiative would have to be led by citizens in the affected areas and agreed to by the Cities of Madison, Oregon and Verona and each of their respective districts. Our Board remains highly committed to serving all students from Fitchburg, Verona, and our surrounding District municipalities into the future.
Q: What is the effect of non-district, open enrolled students on our schools and need for space?
A: The proposed comprehensive K-12 facilities plan takes into account the growth and capacity needs to serve district resident students only. Projections for growth and student enrollment data used for facilities planning does not include current or future projections for open-enrolled students.
Open enrollment policy is based on available seats within existing schools. Over the last several years , the Board has been limiting the number of open enrollment slots available due to overcrowding. For example, Glacier Edge Elementary has taken NO open enrollment students for the last several years.
Q: Are there efficiencies or academic advantages to combining charter schools with Badger Ridge Middle School on a single campus?
A: Yes. Relocating some or all of the charter schools, along with the Badger Ridge Middle School, to the renovated high school campus would provide access to improved educational spaces, labs, and outdoor learning environments; allow efficiencies for shared staff and support services; and capacity for enrollment growth. VASD charters serve both K-5 and K-8, making this a logical fit for occupying dedicated space on a shared campus with the Badger Ridge Middle School students (6-8).