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Second Steering Committee Meeting - 01/24/17

Posted Date: 02/13/2017

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Article by Liz McDaniel (Courtesy of Groesbeck JournalBryan Moore started the meeting explaining more in depth the needs that will be covered by the $5 million bond.  $3 million will be used to purchase 30 buses and purchase more vehicles for the white fleet (suburbans, etc,) and $2 million for the Facility Needs.  The needs of the campuses were viewed at the last meeting.

At this point in time, the bond debt is at $14,400 after the next payment.  We have issued 39 million and after the next two weeks, the debt will be about 14 million.

If we were going to pay it off with taxes it would require some 59 million in taxes.  Total interest costs is 8 million.  Bonds are more effective than using M & O money.  It is more efficient to use bond money.  Questions and discussions were about interest rates, taxes vs. bond money.  By refinancing original bond of 2009, the district could save even more money.  The high interest rates have been paid off. 

A question was raised about what would have the highest priority to be paid for first.  The State Permanent School Fund used to back bonds which allowed the rate to be lower.  They stopped insuring it, which put the district in a financial bind. 

Questions were raised about the $600,000 is only to cover the weatherproofing the brick on the outside of the High School.  This will not cover any interior repairs on the interior walls.  The seal will be applied on the outside brick.  The four walls of the auditorium will be resealed.  A lot of the expense will be the scaffolding and insurance to cover the repairman.  A question of interior walls having mold was brought up.  Previous years ago over 1 million dollars were spent to fix the drainage problem. 

The $800,000 is to cover maintenance salaries (expenses) that will be needed.  Because the buses are four years old, they might have use that money for supplies, materials and salaries for the operation of the buses.  Maintenance funds are being paid out of the last bond’s money.  It would include paying for carpenters, plumbers, etc.   The new bond would continue to pay these maintenance salaries and supplies and other expenses.

There are two different budgets our district has to deal with.   M & O budget a large chunk goes to Austin.  I&S represents interest and principal and we get to keep it. 

There was a great deal of discussion about the Middle School.  It will need some improvements.  The bathrooms are insufficient for the number of students and there will be problems with the “bubble of 160 kids” that are coming up (they are currently in 2nd and 3rd grade presently). 

There was discussion about how the money will be spent and the last bond didn’t pass because it wasn’t presented well and many people didn’t understand the purpose of the bond.  The information that is presented to the public needs to be explained in more detail and stick to what we say we are going to do.  Lack of communication seems to be the problem. 

Kari Thoele answered questions that were addressed about whether the money is supporting academics.   She assured the committee that the M & O money has been used to hire teachers.  The cuts the state made cost the district in being able to hire more teachers.  When several teachers have let they have not been replaced.

The budget is available on the district website.  It is open to the public to view at any time.  It is under business office and there will be the budget tabs.  82% of the school’s budget goes to salaries. 

The discussion generated about concerns that if the bond passes, will there be control over how the money is spent and what things the money will be spent on.  It was agreed that this is a school board issue.  Accountability is of great importance, if the public doesn’t have confidence in the board’s decisions to make wise decisions about how the money will be spent.  Dr. Ramm emphasized that the committee should prioritize the list as to what should be repaired first.  The list needs to be more detailed so people realize how the money will be spent. 

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