Greene Co Schools ready to sell bonds for HS project

The Greene County Schools will pay a true interest rate of 3.379 percent on an issue of $16 million in general obligation bonds to pay for construction of a new high school and repurposing the current high school for use as a middle school.

The net interest cost on the bonds will be $7,165,000.

The board at its regular Aug. 15 meeting approved a resolution to award the bid for the bonds to low bidder Janney Montgomery Scott LLC of Philadelphia, PA.

The board was advised by Matthew Gillaspie of Piper Jaffray. He told the board the school district’s Standard & Poor’s rating is A+, “one of the higher ratings a school in Iowa generally could achieve.” Only a few large metro school districts have a higher rating.

However, by insuring the bond, the underwriter is able to use the insurance company’s AA rating to offer a lower interest rate.

There were seven bids received, with the highest a true interest rate of 3.52 percent from Bank of America.

The board will hold a special meeting Aug. 29 for the actual sale of the bonds.

The remaining $5.48 million in general obligation bonds will be sold in February, March or April, or possibly not until next summer, depending on cash flow needs.

In other related business, board member Steve Karber reported the facilities committee toured schools in Perry and Johnston to see the heating/cooling systems there. Johnston High School has a state-of-the -art central system the committee liked a lot. “The central system would cost a little bit more, but it would be worth it over time because of lower maintenance costs,” he said. The operating cost depends on whether the fuel used is gas and electric, or geothermal.

The committee is still working on the project budget. Determining which HVAC system to use is part of that.

Also, superintendent Tim Christensen reported asbestos removal at the former school in Grand Junction is finished, the yard work has been done. It will be a bus stop again this school year. He reported later in the meeting that he’ll meet soon with Greene County Development Corporation director Ken Paxton to discuss a company that is interested in developing the Grand Junction building, and other “significant” interest in the current middle school after it’s vacated after the 2019-20 school year.

The board accepted the treasurer’s report for 2017-18 as presented by board treasurer Sid Jones, and then re-appointed Jones as treasurer, Brenda Muir as board secretary, and Mumma & Pedersen as board counsel. The board approved opening a new interest-bearing checking account at Home State Bank into which the proceeds of the general obligation bond sale will be deposited. The board also approved depositories and account limits for 2018-19.

The board discussed several possible areas of legislative action and then selected four priorities: dropout/at risk funding; mental health supports; holding districts harmless in any property tax restructuring; and repealing the sunset of the SAVE 1-cent sales tax. Those priorities will be forwarded to the Iowa Association of School Boards to set the lobbying agenda for the 2019 legislative session.

The board adopted two new policies.

The first, Policy 904.2, advertising and promotion, specifies that using students, the school district name, or its buildings and sites for advertising or promotion by businesses and organizations operating for profit is not allowed without prior board approval. Non-profit organizations may be allowed to do so for educationally-related purposes and with prior approval.

The second, Policy 905.4, unmanned aircrafts, prohibits the use or possession of drones on district property or in the space above the property. The superintendent can make exceptions to the policy where circumstances warrant. But, drone operators must supply proof of insurance meeting liability limits established by the district; present registration and authorization issued by the FAA; sign a hold harmless agreement with the district; and meet any other requirement as determined appropriate by the district.

Unmanned aircrafts shall be operated in accordance with the policies of the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union.

Both new policies will be on second reading at the September regular meeting for final approval.

Superintendent Christensen noted the first day of school for students is Aug. 23, and asked the media’s help in reminding motorists to watch for children, bicycles, school busses and young drivers.

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