This page will be dedicated to addressing questions and rumors as the facilities planning process continues throughout the school year. Please check back often for updates.
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- Is open enrollment the main reason for the district's growth?
- What must be considered when opening or closing open enrollment?
- What is the district's relationship with Nexus Solutions?
No. New housing developments in Prior Lake and Savage, combined with families moving into existing homes within our boundaries, can be attributed to our largest increases in student enrollment growth. According to a demographic report conducted in December 2016, Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools can expect at least 850 resident students over the next five years.
Open enrollment trends have changed drastically over the past 10 years. From 2007-08 through the 2014-15 school year, PLSAS had a net loss in open enrollment. This means more resident students chose to attend other school districts than students from other districts choosing PLSAS through the open enrollment option (historical open enrollment). Since 2014-15 we have seen two important trends:
1. More resident students are choosing to stay and attend PLSAS. For example, this school year, 717 resident students chose to enroll elsewhere, which is different from the previous three-year trend of approximately 850 resident students choosing to enroll in other districts.
2. We have experienced a slight net gain in open enrollment. Currently this year we have 1,023 students open enrolling into the district and 717 resident students leaving our district for a net gain of 306 open enrolled students or 3.6% of K-12 open enrolled students.
Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools (PLSAS) has a legal obligation to offer open enrollment where space is available and it continues to be something we monitor very closely.
To help ease overcrowding in our schools, PLSAS has limited open enrollment to 1% for grades K-12 for the remainder of 2016-17 through the 2017-18 school year.
When deciding to close open enrollment, administration must weigh several factors, as outlined below:
|With Open Enrollment (OE), We Have:||Without Open Enrollment (OE)|
|The ability to balance class sizes among the neighborhood schools.||Because the district has neighborhood schools, class sizes will vary from school to school. If open enrollment is closed over a prolonged time period, elementary attendance boundary changes may be needed to balance K-5 enrollment.|
|Staff schools and programs efficiently||We are not able to control where students move into our district, but we can control enrollment growth and balance class sizes through the open enrollment option. For example, if one particular school has a grade level that is lower in enrollment, we can place open enrolled students at that site to create class size balance across the grade level and staff accordingly.|
|Financial balance. Current funding from the State of MN is not enough to maintain or add programming. Additional revenue from open enrollment helps the district maintain a fund balance. The district receives the same funding dollars for resident and open enrolled students. The additional revenue received due to increased student population (resident and/or open enrolled) helps to maintain and add programming.||PLSAS currently loses 717 K-12 students to open enrollment and has 1,023 students who open enroll into the district. Open enrollment provides a financial balance to offset the resident students who leave the district each year. A stagnant student population and stagnant operating funding from the state will not support our current level of programming.|
Over the past several months, Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools (PLSAS) has received questions from some in our community regarding the work we have done with our business partner, Nexus Solutions, as we address the district’s facilities needs during these times of rapid enrollment growth. We have answered all questions openly and honestly. We are committed to being fiscally responsible and transparent in all that we do. That’s why we have developed the following questions and answers for stakeholders in our community.
Key points to note:
● Nexus has helped the district with complex facilities challenges due to enrollment growth, during a time of recession, while minimizing the cost to taxpayers.
● By working with Nexus, the district was able to complete projects with no increase in the school district levy.
● PLSAS underwent a thorough process prior to selecting Nexus that included a
competitive selection process, a contract review that was conducted by our attorney and a community forum.
Since 2012, the district has had 3 contractual agreements with Nexus Solutions, as follows.
1) Plan, design and manage the following School Board identified projects:
- Deferred maintenance and security improvements
- 15 classroom addition at the high school and some remodeling
- Turf at Dan Patch Stadium and Laker Field
- Upgrades to Twin Oaks Middle School’s water and heating plant and secure
- The total program costs for this work = $34.8 million
- For these projects, Nexus and its subcontractors including: Wold Architects,
Anderson-Johnson Architects, Wenck Construction (formerly Bossardt) and
several other companies, were paid a total of $5.3 million for consulting services. All of the projects were completed on time, on budget, with no increase to the school district’s levy while protecting the capital investment of our community. The School Board voted unanimously to approve these projects.
- Once the contract with Nexus was approved, all projects came to the School
Board for review. A formal bid process was conducted on each of these projects
prior to the district moving forward with and completing projects. All projects were approved by the School Board over the course of multiple Board meetings.
2) As an E-STEM and Green Ribbon school district, the School Board wanted to continue to lower the energy costs in the district so that more dollars would be available to be spent in the classroom. The School Board entered into an agreement with Nexus Solutions for $3 million in Performance Contracting to make energy improvements such as lighting efficiency, water conservation, temperature control improvements and backup generators. The schools district spends .72 cents per square foot on utility costs. Only 20% of school districts in Minnesota can claim these same or lower costs. On January 9th, 2017, Nexus Solutions presented an energy savings report to the School Board indicating the actual annual savings for the first year exceeded the original proposed savings for a majority of the building improvements. The school district realized savings of $265,573 between July 2015-June 2016, which exceeds our guaranteed annual savings of approximately $200,000. Per the contract, Nexus has been paid $8,250 for measurement and verification work they have completed to date.
3) Referendum and facilities plan consulting. Nexus does not control the scope nor budget of any of the district’s projects or proposals, the School Board does. The School Board established Initial Facility Planning Goals. Based on those goals, Nexus prepared options from which the Board could pick and choose. Ultimately, after careful review and community feedback, the Board chose the combination of the improvements that they believed were in the best interest of the community. Due to the failed referendum in May, 2016, no projects have been completed and Nexus has not received any payments under this agreement.
Checks and balances of our contractual agreement
While the initial Nexus contract was created under former Superintendent, Dr. Sue Ann Gruver, on July 11, 2016, the School Board conducted a comprehensive contract review of all work completed to date along with the third contract agreement for long-range facilities planning. After review and clarification of the contract, and an additional review by the district’s attorney, the Board reached consensus to continue to move forward with the agreement with Nexus.
Why did the district take this approach to facilities planning?
In 2011, district staff had identified over $50 million in deferred maintenance needs as well as increasing the security to the entrances at many of our elementary and middle schools. The only financial option available to the district at the time was to raise taxes. In 2012, the United States was in a recession. The request by the School Board was to look for solutions to meet our needs without raising taxes. Two companies were identified that could help to complete these projects while not increasing the taxes to our community. The school board interviewed both of these companies and selected Nexus Solutions.
PLSAS underwent a very thorough process before selecting Nexus as its partner, including a comprehensive review by the district’s legal counsel and a forum that was open to the community. During the forum, community members praised the district for bringing forward an option that would save the taxpayers money over the long run, while still being able to address critical building maintenance needs and additional classroom space at Prior Lake High School.
Meeting Date Review
- Facility Committee 11/10/11 In-house Facilities Review
- Facility Committee 5/17/12 Vendor Presentations
- Board Study Session 6/25/12 Board presented with Nexus Solutions Proposal
- Board Meeting 7/16/12 Board approval of Nexus Solutions Facility Consultant Proposal
- Facility Committee 9/17/12 Comprehensive Facility Improvement Plan Presented
- Facility Committee 10/15/12 Financial Solution to address Comprehensive Facility Improvement Plan
- Board Study Session 10/22/12 Financial Solution to address Comprehensive Facility Improvement Plan
- Facility Meeting 10/24/12 Line-by-line review of Comprehensive Facility Improvement Plan
- Board Meeting 11/5/12 Nexus Solutions presents Comprehensive Facility Improvement Plan
- Community Forum 11/19/12 Presentation of Comprehensive Facility Improvement Plan
- Board Study Session 12/3/12 Review and discuss authorization of Comprehensive Facility Improvement Plan
- Board Meeting 12/10/12 School Board Authorizes Long Term Facility Plan
The School Board and administration take their role as fiscal stewards of the community’s resources very seriously. Nexus has helped the district navigate facilities challenges and realize energy savings. At the same time, we have not increased the district’s tax levy. We are happy to answer any questions from our community regarding our partnership with Nexus. Please use the following email address to contact the School Board: firstname.lastname@example.org