Cary School District 26 looks to add referendum to November ballot for capital improvements

District 26 looks to issue $20 million in bonds to repair and upgrade buildings

Cary School District 26 is looking to ask for voter approval to issue $20 million worth of bonds that will go toward improving school buildings, according to district documents.

With an emphasis on safety, security and technology improvements, the school district is looking to use bonds to get caught up with capital improvement projects, District 26 Director of Finance and Operations David Shepherd said at a meeting last week.

“This is our attempt to make sure that we’re being fiscally responsible and keeping up with our buildings and the maintenance that they need,” Shepherd said.

Improvements include altering, repairing and equipping all of the district’s sites with safety and security upgrades; replacing roofs, doors, windows and boilers; repairing masonry and sidewalks; and renovating instructional spaces, according to district documents.

“Our school facilities are one of our most valuable assets and we want to maintain the facilities we have now and well into the future,” Shepherd said.

The district currently is structuring the referendum language that would appear on the ballot in November, working with advisers and attorneys to create a question that is specific enough without being too confusing for voters, Shepherd said.

The improvements will help decrease utility and maintenance costs that are increasing as the buildings age, Superintendent Brandon White said.

“Our buildings were built during a past era where safety was not at the forefront,” Shepherd said.

Property taxes will go down slightly if the referendum passes, but taxes would go down more without it, Shepherd said. Homes ranging from $225,000 to $500,000 in market value could see a savings of $59 to $138 in taxes. Without the referendum, savings would be about $188 to $258 for home values from $225,000 to $300,000, according to district documents.

“Think about it from the perspective of your house,” Shepherd said. “When you have improvements to do to your house, if you have a new roof to put on, the longer you wait to do that improvement, the more costly it gets.”

Without a referendum, the district would resort to taking money out of its education funds, which would impact the classroom, Shepherd said.

The district aims to finalize the referendum language and have the board approve it in July. The board has until Aug. 19 to officially approve the resolution. Once passed, the district plans to create a tentative timeline of construction projects and create a referendum political action committee to help educate voters, Shepherd said.

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