Gainesville R-V to ask voters for operating levy increase in August Administrators present “Kids First Building and Renovation” proposal
Gainesville R-V School superintendent Dr. Jeff Hyatt told Gainesville Lions Club members last week that the school board had voted March 26 to ask voters to approve a 75-cent operating levy increase in the August election.
The last time a Gainesville School tax issue was passed was 25 years ago – in 1993.
Gainesville’s operating levy is currently at the state minimum of $2.75, Hyatt said. The increase would bring its tax levy to $3.50, the lowest in the county. After Dora voters approved a school operating levy increase to $3.43 last week, its total levy, including debt service, stands at $3.61. Bakersfield’s school levy is at $4.56.
“Academically, I’d put us up against anyone in the county,” Hyatt said. “But from the standpoint of our buildings and facilities – we’re dead last.”
Hyatt said the school currently has about $3.1 million in the bank, which is a 29 to 30 percent balance. “Over the years – and this is such a good thing – Gainesville School District has been great stewards of the money. They have money in the bank, and they’ve been working toward using those funds for additions and renovations for the elementary, middle school and high school. Right now, we’re focusing on constructing a FEMA building in the front of the high school. We’re going to use district funds to do that.”
Hyatt added that the district plans to maintain a 20 percent balance, which is the standard recommended by the state. “For Gainesville, that’s about four months of payroll, bills, etc.,” he said.
Following the FEMA building project, phase 2 of school improvements planned if the levy increase passes include preschool expansion so that all area children can be served, expansion and wall reinforcement of the elementary cafeteria so that it could serve as a storm shelter, improved school safety systems, a new heating and cooling system (the current one is 25 years old), roofing, floor and ceiling tiles and new lockers.
Phase three would include a multi-purpose gymnasium. “The old gym is completely outdated and not at all ADA compliant,” Hyatt said. “It’s time for a new facility. We talked about renovating that one, but when you get into the cost, it’s almost as much to renovate one as it is to build one.”
Hyatt added that the multi-purpose gymnasium could be used for band and choir concerts, elementary programs and graduation when the weather is bad. “ I remember one year when I was principal here, we had to have graduation in the gym, and it was awful,” he said. “That was a big push at my previous district, making sure we had a facility that we could have graduation in, that everyone could sit comfortably and be either cool or warm, depending on the time of the year.”
“We’re like everyone else – we feel like our children deserve the best,” Hyatt said. “We’re asking people to invest in a facility that’s almost 60 years old so that it’ll last another 60 years. We’re applying for every grant we can apply for. We’re hoping to get a new greenhouse and new computer equipment through 75-25 grants. We’re looking in every direction possible.
“The school is the hub of the community,” Hyatt said. “Supporting future generations is what we’re focusing on.”