By JEROD CLAPP
Continuing to work toward getting New Tech off the ground, Clarksville Community Schools took another step toward making the school a reality at Tuesday’s board meeting.
The board unanimously passed a 1028 resolution following a public hearing, with board president Bill Wilson absent. State law requires a resolution and hearing if more than $1 million is financed by a lease agreement, bonds or any other method.
Though it’s closer to putting the school in its half of the old Value City property on Eastern Boulevard, board member Jim Bemiss said he noticed the furniture store was about to close its doors.
“The first going-out-of-business sales are up at Value City Furniture, so we just have to make sure we’ve got a wall up when they tear the rest of that down,” Bemiss said. “The timeframe they gave us is getting a little close. They were talking about the middle of November and we’re well toward the middle of October.”
Kim Knott, superintendent, said Clarksville’s Redevelopment Commission talked about that issue, saying tearing down the wall would cost more than they originally anticipated.
But the timeline for New Tech has a few key developments scheduled for this month: On Oct. 11, the designs are due and the board is scheduled to open bids on Oct. 24. On Oct. 29, the board hopes to award a contract.
The board also unanimously approved the district’s 2014 budget.
Knott said the advertised budget is always higher than what it actually expects to receive and advertised levies are treated the same way, but a few variables could affect how much less it gets.
The district’s assessed valuation is about 5 percent lower than what it was last year, down to more than $362 million. She said for the last few years, the trend has been anywhere from 5 to 8 percent.
“I will tell you that if our [assessed value] continues to go down, I have no magic not to have our tax rate go up,” Knott said. “I mean, it just is not possible.”
She said that, paired with the circuit breaker impact — the effect districts feel from capped property taxes — it expects an additional loss of about $300,000 to $400,000.
On top of those issues, she said the district’s current enrollment is down about 11 students from last year and trends show a drop in the spring head count. With two state counts, she said that could result in further revenue loss.
Andy Bramer, board vice president, said hopefully more people will be drawn to the district with the prospect of its new school opening in 2014.
“With the excitement of New Tech, it’s possible that number could go up,” Bramer said. “As we move forward with it and people in neighboring areas hear about that, that number could go up. I know historically we’ve declined, but potentially, that could be a better thing for us going forward.”
The board also unanimously passed a new health insurance plan for employees.
Knott said slight increases will be noticed in life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment and disability coverage. But she said though rates for health insurance are the same, employees will see the increase in their costs.
She said last year, district reserves helped offset the increase it realized. Now without that money and costs staying the same, it’s passed onto the employees.
Jim Bemiss, board member, said though the board had different plans to choose from, the results were pretty much the same no matter what it approved.
“I’d just like to reiterate that we had no choice,” Bemiss said. “This is not someplace where we’re loaded with options. When we heard the options, there were no options, so we arrived at this under some duress.”