California School Board considers timing of next bond issue

Dwight Sanders with the certificate of recognition presented by the Missouri Association of School Administrators. This certificate is based on the same criteria as the Distinction of Performance award which is no longer being given by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Dwight Sanders with the certificate of recognition presented by the Missouri Association of School Administrators. This certificate is based on the same criteria as the Distinction of Performance award which is no longer being given by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Photo by David Wilson.

The California R-I School regular board meeting held Wednesday, Nov. 28, was led off by a review of the bond status of the district and an audit report. The meeting began with a quorum of four present at 6 p.m., with two additional board members arriving within half an hour.

The bond review was presented by Larry Hart and Kelly Liermann, representing L.J. Hart and Company of Chesterfield. The board presentation was essentially a followup for the full board. Hart and Liermann had an earlier meeting with Superintendent Dwight Sanders and Board President Steven Burger regarding a future bond issue.

The long-range goals the board and superintendent mentioned as being addressed with a bond issue in the near future includes a new lighted sports complex ( football, baseball, softball, locker rooms, press box and concession stand) and energy conservation work (efficient heating and cooling, energy efficient windows and lighting).

The board was informed of the status of the district's 2010 bonds, and the possibility of setting back fund balances for the amount of the bonds which would then be used to purchase Federal Treasuries. The bond balances are then offset (a process called defeasance) and go "off the books."

Hart explained that a bond issue could be done for $4 million in 2014. If delayed until 2015, the bond issue could be for $4.5 million, and in 2017, $7.5 million. The problem with waiting is that interest rates are important and they could go up.

The current R-I School Debt Service Levy is just under 98 cents per each $100 of property valuation. Hart noted that the school board can increase the debt service levy to $1.10 — just over 12 cents — without putting it to the voters of the district for approval. He commented that if the board were to increase the debt service levy before the bond issue is put before the voters, the bond issue could probably be done in 2014 rather than 2015.

He said analysis of recent bond issues indicated those bond proposals which state that the debt service levy will not increase have a 92 percent pass rate. Those which have as a part of the bond proposal that the debt service levy will increase have a pass rate of less than 15 percent. His recommendation was for the board to increase the debt service levy before putting the bond issue to the voters.

Hart advocated "total transparency similar to what was done on 2006-07".

There was some discussion of grass versus artificial turf fields. According to Sanders, it is an issue for some people. He said an artifical-turf field can be costly, possibly a million dollars.

Board member Craig Ash said that regardless of where the football field is located, something will have to be done about bleachers since they are in bad shape.

In other business, the board heard an audit report from Jo Moore, Evers and Company. There were no outstanding deficiencies noted in the school financial records and reports.

Elementary Principal Daniel Williams reported an enrollment of 596, an increase of five from October. The school has begun "vertically aligning" the writing curriculum with first and second grades as the school contemplates a shift away from the "D'Nealian handwriting series." The Lucy Calkins writing books have been ordered for the kindergarten staff so the school can have a consistant writing curriculum from kindergarten through grade five.

Middle School Principal Matt Abernathy reported an enrollment of 290. He also reported that the school's participation in a poverty simulation was an "eye-opener for many beginning teachers and a few veterans." Peer Helpers are sponsoring the Middle School Giving Tree again this year. Marcia Bibb is the contact for information.

The African Library Project (ALP) Book drive was underway in Novemeber. The elementary and middle schools collected "gently used books, educational and pre-school games, flash cards, puzzles" and other educational items to be sent to a kindergarten through fourth grade school in Africa.

Abernathy reported Parent/Teacher Conference attendance of 80.7 percent for both days, down slightly from last year. The lower attendance could be because of the time change on the second day or the progress made by the school in reducing Ds and Fs.

High School Principal Mike Hight reported an enrollment of 411. He also submitted a list of 19 seniors who applied for early graduation after having completed all requirements. The board approved the list for graduation.

Archery training will be added to the high school and middle school physical education curriculum. The instructors underwent training to teach it on Monday, Nov. 12. Julie Bailey led the project which was taught by Conservation Department personnel.

Filing dates are 8 a.m. Dec 11 to 5 p.m. Jan. 15, 2013, when school is in session, for the two positions on the school board open for the April 2, 2013, election.

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