Jan. 22, 2021
Ray-Pec Parent Community,

I am very excited to report to you that at its meeting last night, the Ray-Pec Board of Education voted unanimously to place a $72 million no-tax-rate-increase bond issue on the ballot for April 6, 2021. This decision stems from the recently approved Long Range Facility Plan for 2021-2031 that I reported to you in a recent email message. This is an exciting time for the district as we address our current needs and prepare for future needs to meet the challenges of increased enrollment, additional student opportunities, and good stewardship of existing facilities. Here are some details about what the bond plan will offer.

Meeting the challenge of increasing high school enrollment

To address our five-year needs to meet the challenges of our student enrollment at the high school level, a new high school facility is part of this no-tax-rate-increase bond election.

Informed by community feedback and from looking at the initial operating costs of an additional facility, the best approach for Ray-Pec is to work our way toward the opening of a second high school by first constructing a freshman center. This freshman center will be designed to meet the needs of our 9th grade classes and be constructed on the land the district owns on the East Middle School campus. This is the first step to transform that campus to a full middle school-high school combination site. Future building projects will expand the freshman center into Ray-Pec’s second high school over the next 5-10 years depending on enrollment and future bond elections. Community feedback and surveys were very helpful in determining this course of action and facility strategy. 

With the continued implementation of the Virtual Instruction Program at Ray-Pec (VIPR), dedicated areas for this student program will be developed as part of the design process of this freshman center facility. Additional work on this freshman center facility to meet the needs of co-curricular and extracurricular activities would include stadium changes, tennis courts, and additional practice fields. 

Preparing for increased student opportunity 

The next driver of this no-tax-rate-increase bond election is providing for continued student opportunity.

In Ray-Pec’s strategic plan, providing additional opportunities for students in the area of career education is one of the highest priorities as the district continues to grow. This no-tax-rate-increase bond election provides funding for such opportunities. Science, technology, engineering, and math, and other career-oriented programs such as machining, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing, to name a few, are valuable for students and their futures. This bond proposal includes plans to support such opportunities into the future. A planning committee has been established to determine which programs will be needed in the initial construction. Machining was implemented in the 2020/2021 school year and at least one additional program, such as HVAC, Plumbing, or Electrical studies, will be in place by the 2022/2023 school year. Facility additions or the acquisition of an existing facility will allow for the space to accommodate these and future programs.

Another thing that we heard clearly from our community conversations and feedback about this no-tax-rate-increase bond election was the desire for a new performing arts center (PAC). The current PAC at the High School was built in 1992 with a seating capacity of 422. There is limited space available for choir, instrumental, orchestra, and theatrical performances. A modern PAC with increased seating capacity and student learning opportunities would allow for district-wide performances along with potential community use.

Being good stewards with what we already have been given

A final driver of this no-tax-rate-increase bond election is good stewardship to take care of what we already have. The Ray-Pec School District makes up over 1.2 million square feet of facility space. A sustained building re-investment and facility upkeep program is needed to continue to provide safe and efficient learning opportunities for students. A needs study was conducted recently which gives us a good idea of our top facility maintenance and technology priorities over the next five years. Every school site in the district will receive some level of funding from this bond election. Taking care of what we have been given through past bond elections is a primary goal of the April 2021 no-tax-rate-increase bond election.

At its Nov. 19 meeting, the Board approved Ray-Pec’s new Long Range Facility Plan for 2021-2031. Work on the plan began in mid-2019 and included a steering committee of Ray-Pec teachers, principals, city planners, architects, demographers and district administration. Over 25 community presentations and three surveys of parents and residents were conducted to gather feedback on priorities. 

As you can see, this is an exciting time to be in Panther Country! As your new superintendent, I am continually impressed by this school district and how it is truly a destination district for its residents. A strong, vibrant community is made up of public safety, good housing options, recreational amenities, and strong public schools. As we continue to provide for our students and schools, both now and into the future, we have the opportunity through an April 2021 no-tax-rate-increase bond election to help prepare for today, and build for tomorrow. More information about this important election on April 6 will be communicated in the coming weeks.

Thank you for entrusting your children to the Ray-Pec School District.

Mike Slagle

I am passionately driven by the belief that Everyone Is Created To Flourish