Kathy Dzewaltowski, observer
The focus of the work session was the proposed $130 million bond. Items in the bond include a new elementary school, expanding the middle schools in order to move 6th graders to the middle school level, expanding MHS West Campus in order to move 9th graders to the building, and renovating MHS East Campus and using it for administration. Eric Reid, Asst. Superintendent, also said administration had taken the direction provided by the board at a previous meeting to develop a plan to move the district’s central kitchen to the transportation building and expand it, and then raze the current central kitchen facility.
Greg Vahrenburg, with the firm Piper Jaffray which is providing financial consulting for the bond, discussed with board members a plan of action for financing the bond. An application is required to be submitted to the State Board of Education for review and also to the Kansas Dept. of Education. The Kansas Legislature passed legislation that imposes a cap on the amount of school bonds that can be approved in a given year, which is based on how much principal of school bonds was paid off the previous year. Mr. Vahrenburg said the dollar amount in bonds being considered by Kansas school districts currently exceeds the cap. He advised the board that if there are more applications submitted than would fall below the cap, the district should present all scenarios that would put the bond in the best possible light, e.g. emphasizing the need for additional space due to increased enrollment. Mr. Vahrenburg also discussed with the board the differences between a 15-year and a 20-year repayment of the bond. A 15-year repayment schedule would have a 3% interest rate, and the mill levy would be set at 22 mills through 2023 and could then be lowered to 17.5 mills. A 20-year repayment schedule would have a 4.14% interest rate, and the mill levy would be 18 mills through 2025 and could then be lowered to 13.75 mills.
The board held a public hearing for the adoption of the amended budget. No members of the public commented during the hearing. During the regular meeting, the board approved the adoption of the amended budget.
The board was provided a review of the accelerated math program at the secondary level. A task force was formed to examine recent research and provide information to the board. With the accelerated program, advanced students skipped ahead to harder courses, and teachers noticed that students who had skipped 6th and 7th grade math had gaps in their knowledge. “Compaction” became the focus, which exposed students to all of the material and skills at a faster pace. Two courses were proposed at the middle school level, which allowed students to take three years of math over two years, and an accelerated course was also proposed for the high school level. The review was for information only.