Enhancing Current Facilities
Andover has long been a leader in excellence as it relates to facilities, classroom technology and athletic facilities. In 2019, the current bond payments will be paid in full and, at that time, the district and Board of Education have made a proposition for the future. We are committed to providing facilities for our students to learn successfully and have a history of proactive, thorough planning to meet the facility needs of our community. Over the last year, around 170 district staff, parents and community members participated in a facilities study process to identify district needs and dreams for the future. Participants evaluated solutions for the district and reviewed finance, demographics, technology, pupil transportation, infrastructure, community research and data for each building to develop a new vision for Andover’s facilities.
The study brought several maintenance needs to light. The steering committee recommended adding secured entrances and storm shelters to improve safety and security infrastructure. Additionally, the district found around $20 million dollars of district-wide necessary facility improvements that will be addressed in Proposition 1, which include: repairing roofs, updating HVAC and fire alarm systems, addressing inconsistencies in classroom square footage, updating playgrounds and improving parking. Programming improvements include 21st century learning spaces to allow for more project-based and student-driven learning, exploring early childhood additions, enhancing our performing and visual arts sector and adding classrooms.
Enrollment trends in USD 385 show modest growth for both the past and future. The projected enrollment through the 2020-21 school year indicates continued increases, resulting in about 300 additional K-12 students. Compared to our enrollment history, this steady increase is dramatically slower than we are used to. Anticipated enrollment from residential development opportunities in the area will likely result in even more student growth. Moderate expansion will continue, mostly in currently developing areas around the City of Andover that feed into Andover High School. Building permit activity is projected to remain similar to the last couple of years, between 250-300 units annually. The key to attracting young families with younger school-aged children is having affordable units and residential developments.
School capacity is another important issue facing the district. From the recent demographic study, the elementary schools do not appear to have space concerns; all six are at least 50 students below the building’s capacity and won’t hit capacity in the next five years. However, the middle and high school buildings are filling up fast. Andover Central High School and Andover Middle School will reach inadequate capacity by 2017-18. Andover High School is anticipated to receive the largest growth and is already exceeding capacity. There will need to be more than boundary changes to address the capacity issues at the middle and high school level.
The 2016-17 General Fund budget is $32,126,334 and the district’s current total mill levy is 65.289. The district mill levy is broken into 4 funds: General 20 mills, Capital Outlay 8 mills, Local Option Budget (LOB) 11.203 mills and Bond Debt/Interest 26.086 mills. Since 2009, Andover Public Schools has reduced its operating budget by more than $5 million. The district has also reduced some programs, coaching positions and other expenditures to continue giving more to the classroom. In 2015-16, Andover was ranked the sixth most efficient district in per-pupil spending in the state. The most up-to-date cost per Andover student is approximately $10,564, and 19 percent of this cost is debt service to bonds and interest.
Though our general fund has been extremely tight, we are pleased that our current outstanding bonds are scheduled to be paid off by September 2019. While all of USD 385’s issues have been paid in a 10-15 year term, most Kansas districts average a 15-20 or even 30-year payoff term. Legislation states that any new debt incurred by the district would receive 24 percent State Aid. One thing to note about bond dollars is that state statute requires funds levied (26.086 mills) by the district to be used only toward paying off annual principal and interest payments of issued bonds.
USD 385 provides an excellent return on investment and our responsible debt management hasn’t gone unnoticed. Moody’s Investors Service recently upgraded the district’s bond rating to Aa3 from A1. The change reflects a higher credit quality and a lower level of credit risk from years past. It also shows the district’s improvement in liquidity and reserves. The report, released in August 2016, cites the district’s strong socioeconomic indicators, stable and increasing tax base and nearness to Wichita as a few of the reasons for the upgrade.
Master Plan Proposal
The master plan consists of renovating or expanding all ten district school buildings, support centers and athletic facilities. In addition, it proposes options to construct new campuses for Meadowlark Elementary and Andover High School. The cost for these new buildings and renovations is $188.605 million, for which the district has covered in the May 9 bond election.
At the high school level, Andover High School will be rebuilt at its current location and enhancements will take place at Andover Central High School. The master plan will add on to and enhance both middle schools. Five of the elementary schools will be expanded and enhanced, while Meadowlark will be rebuilt on a new site. For the district’s athletic facilities, the proposed option is to renovate District Stadium for Andover High School’s sole use and upgrade the Andover Central High School stadium to be used as its home stadium. A district tennis complex and district pool and locker room facility are also part of the bond proposition. The support centers will move into the unused Meadowlark building.