Why is the district doing this project now?The school district is engaging in a capital project for four primary reasons. First, the district qualifies for Qualified Zone Academy Bonds; second is a number of items that were identified in the Five Year Building Condition Survey need to be addressed in the near future; third this gives us the opportunity to efficiently implement optimal grade level configurations where we can use staff in the most effective manner and offer students better opportunities to maximize their educational experiences; and finally we can enhance our athletic fields for our students and community to use.
What are Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB)?
QZAB is a federal tax credit bond used as a source of financing the rehabilitation of a public school facility’s classroom space. In New York State, the project must have voter approval and board authorization, as required, before application can be approved by the Commissioner of Education (Facilities Planning) prior to issuing the QZAB bonds.
We just finished a large project, why now?
The special financing offered through the federal government requires approval by the voters and New York State by December 2016 or it will be released to another district. The approval in NY could take as long as twelve months after public approval. We received notification of the award of this funding in late Spring 2015 and that is why we are bringing this to the voters at this time.
Will taxes increase to pay for this project?
NO ! with the aid from the state, use of a previously approved Capitol Building project reserve along with the credits through the federal QZAB program the net cost to the district will be zero.
If this same project was presented to the district voters without the QZAB bonds, how much would local taxpayers have to pay?
Is building aid jeopardized with QZAB funding?
No. Building Aid is paid on the approved eligible cost of the project.
What are the requirements to apply for QZAB funds?
A school district must have an approved capital project. The district must also have 35 percent or more of their students who qualify for free and reduced lunches. The school district must have private entities willing to contribute a net present value equal to 10% of the QZAB amount to the district. North Tonawanda City Schools has a commitment from Apple as a partner on the new Technology Academy at the high school. The final requirement is the purchaser must be willing to buy the bonds and accept (and have a use for) tax credits from the federal government in lieu of normal interest payments.
What are the requirements for the new academy?
The academy program must be designed in cooperation with private businesses (‘10% match partner’) to enhance the academic curriculum, increase graduation and employment rates and prepare students for college and the workforce. The academy must be located in the building(s) in which the QZAB capital project proceeds are being spent. The education plan (‘academy’) must be approved by the District’s Board of Education prior to issuance of the QZABs.
The district can accept multiple match partners.
What is considered in the 10% match partner?
Qualified contributions by private entities consists of equipment, including state of the art technology and vocational equipment, for use in the academy; technical assistance in developing curriculum or in training teachers to promote appropriate market‐driven technology in the classroom; services of employees as volunteer mentors; internships, field trips or other educational opportunities outside the academy; or any other property or service specified by the local education agency.
What happens if voters reject the capital project?
Then the district will have to do the needed roof repairs and maintenance out of the school budget which does not cover everything. We could also redefine the project and put it to a second vote but many of the incentives have timelines attached and the cost to the tax payers would go up. Every district must do a five year building survey which identifies needs of the facilities district wide. If the project is rejected, parts of these costs will be funded through the general fund where no building aid will come from the state. Therefore the local taxpayer will pay for the total cost for those items that need to be addressed during the next five years.
What happens with Drake Elementary?
Drake would remain a K-3 building and improvements would be made in technology over the next three years. Student enrollment, not project work, dictates the numbers of classrooms and buildings needed in a district.
When will the project start and will instruction be impacted?Construction is estimated to start in Spring 2017 with completion in the summer of 2018. Classroom instruction is our priority and construction projects will be done either when students are not in school or in areas that students will not have access to. Building occupancy with new grade level configurations will occur in September 2018.