MNW seeks PPEL hike

MANSON – Manson Northwest Webster Community School District needs voters to approve a 33-cent increase to its Physical Plant and Equipment Levy on Sept. 10, according to Superintendent Mark Egli.

The total $1.16 per $1,000 valuation levy would give the school district an extra $110,000 yearly for needed multiple repairs to its 40-year-old high school.

“Unless we have that, we’re probably not going to be able to do a lot of these projects,” Egli said. “It’s pretty critical at this point, with that building’s age and where we’re at, to get this done. And probably no other way.”

Egli itemized the 10 areas in need of immediate attention, an effort that will cost the district $1 million.

“I combined all these things into one bank loan. We would work to pay it back in 10 years, $110,000 paying back about a $900,000 effort we’re going to have,” he said.

The extra funds will go entirely to refurbishments, with two exceptions: air conditioning, and the demolition of the district’s old elementary building.

“We have no choice for most of this, or we run into problems,” Egli said. “Everything there is a necessity, not a frill or something in excess.”

The high school gym bleachers will be replaced to meet Americans With Disabilities Act standards, floor-to-ceiling single-pane windows will be replaced, the baseball field will get new lightning, and elementary digital controls will be expanded.

A key issue for the district is upgrading the high school’s water piping.

“We have lost hot water already to the industrial arts and ag area. We’ve lost hot water to the kitchen,” Egli said. “We could be losing hot water to the locker rooms because of the corrosion that’s taken place in those pipes. We could have some real problems within the building with water shut down.”

Also needed are electrical upgrades, Egli said.

“We’re out of code at the high school,” he said. “In order to get any air conditioning, we have to change the electrical systems at both buildings. This week they’re talking about temperatures in the 90s. In the upstairs of our high school it will get to 90 degrees in late afternoon. You have to choose between an absolutely impossible learning environment or closing the school early on those days.”

Demolishing the old elementary building, adjacent to Manson Area Community Center, is also necessary, Egli said.

“The vandalism has already started,” he said. “We have a lot of windows broken out, which we have to replace with plywood. We have to get that started, or it’s going to get worse.”

Without the additional funds the projects cannot be done, Egli said, as the district is otherwise out of PPEL funds.

“With the amount of PPEL we have right now, we’ve pretty much used that all up with either bus leases or technology,” he said. “We don’t have any room in our PPEL or capital projects to do this size of a refurbishing project.”

The $1 million price tag was scaled down significantly from the $6 million suggested by consultants, Egli said.

“Two engineering companies came through and replacing everything that’s old, which we don’t plan to do, they came up with about a $6.1 million project,” he said. “We’re trying to condense that it into keeping what still works, air handlers and that sort of thing, and fixing that which doesn’t work.”

Manson Northwest Webster has a board-approved 33 cents and a voter-approved 50 cents. The ballet item on Sept. 10 will request the 50 cents from voters again and an additional 33 cents. The total request will be for 83 cents. With the board-approved levy, the levy will be $1.16.

“To me, it is a critical vote,” Egli said. “Personally, I’m nearing the end of my superintendent career, with retirement in the near future. But these are issues that are going to be with the school a long time, and they need to be made now for our future.”