The Long Beach Board of Education approved a capital reserve initiative at their Aug. 27 business meeting to cover costs associated with the reconstruction of an area of Long Beach High School affected by the collapse of a suspended carport ceiling back in April.
The board has opted to utilize existing funds in its capital reserve. Since the funds have already been set aside for capital projects, the work will not result in a tax increase. Voter approval is required, with a community referendum set for Oct. 18, 2012 at East School during the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
"Following a comprehensive review of Long Beach High School after the April ceiling collapse, structural engineers and the district's architects and construction manager determined that we had to begin rebuilding the carport ceiling now to protect our mechanical, electrical and plumbing infrastructure," Long Beach Superintendent of Schools David Weiss said in a release. "Given the fact that we have sufficient money in the capital reserve to complete this work, and it will not carry an additional cost to our taxpayers, we are asking for their approval to use funds from this reserve."
The capital reserve is separate from the annual operating budget and similar to a savings account, according to the district. It provides the ability to set aside monies to fund capital improvements and emergencies for which the district might otherwise need to issue new bonds or pay for through the annual operating budget.
There is approximately $7 million currently in the capital reserve, $5.7 million of which voters will be asked to authorize on Oct.18. The approval would support the complete demolition and rebuilding of the suspended carport ceiling, as well as general construction, electrical, mechanical and plumbing work in areas in the immediate vicinity, including the high school main entrance, lobby, gym entrance, and locker room.
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Construction has already commenced, since work on the ceiling must be completed before the winter. Voters will simply be asked to authorize the board to fund the work through the capital reserve.
School officials had considered utilizing undesignated fund balance reserves normally set aside for containing the tax impact of the annual operating budget and emergency expenditures. While utilizing fund balance would also not carry a tax increase, if used now, the board’s ability to apply fund balance to contain the tax impact of future operating budgets would be affected.
Since the capital reserve is established for facilities projects such as these, the board determined it to be the most fiscally prudent method of funding the necessary work.
In an effort to save money, Long Beach school officials said they will enact more streamlined polling procedures for the Oct. 18 referendum, similar to procedures used in the district's special board of education runoff election held in June 2012. While a regular vote/election costs the district approximately $40,500, by using East School as a centralized polling location, the district estimates the Oct. 18 vote will cost approximately $5,000.