July 26, 2014

School construction underway

Mark Taylor
Special to the Gardner News
The Gardner Edgerton School Board approved several agenda items pertaining to bond issue projects on Jan. 14.
Voters last year passed a $72 million bond issue for a new elementary and middle school campus, a Multi-Purpose Activity Center, new turf for the high school football field, renovations at Gardner and Sunflower commentaries, and district-wide technology upgrades, including laptops and audio-visual equipment.
Board members unanimously approved an $86,810 bid to K&W for fiber optic cabling to provide Internet and data services for the new elementary and middle school campus.
The elementary school is set to open in the fall, and the middle school in 2014.
The board also approved a $25,000 expenditure to replace 25 existing city-owned utility poles to accommodate the additional weight of the fiber optic cabling.
Gary Diener, director of operations, said running the cable underground would be more expensive than replacing the poles.
Mary Herbert, board member, reluctantly voted in favor of the expenditure, saying she didn’t believe the school district should bear the entire cost of the utility pole replacement.
“This is frustrating,” she said. “It kind of irritates me because their (city’s) electric lines are going to be on those poles, also.”
The board also rejected two bids – masonry and glass/glazing – to re-bid and save $100,000 on the Multi-Purpose Activity Center.
Diener said he hopes to present new bids to the board on Feb. 11.
“To reject bids and re-bid them is not something we take lightly,” he said, adding that the pros outweigh the cons in rebidding.
The board also awarded a $551,332 bid to VICRO for furniture for the new elementary school.
The furniture has a 10-year warrantee.
Jeremy McFadden, director of business and finance, told the board the district’s bond advisors and counsel have recommended that the district sell the remainder of the its bond authority in the spring of 2013 rather than spring of 2014, as previously planned.
The district has sold $30 million of its bond authority to date and has $42 million remaining to be sold.
McFadden said the recommendation is based on a favorable bond interest rate, currently about 3.5 percent for a 20-year bond.
“The interest rate is phenomenal,” McFadden said. “You’re not going to get much better interest rates than this.” McFadden said there is also a potential for a substantial “premium” from bond purchasers that could exceed $1 million in benefits for the district and be used to help lower the mill levy.
The premium would put the interest rate at 4 to 4.5 percent, according to preliminary estimates. “The purchasers of the bond really want a higher interest rate, so they are willing to put money up front in order to buy
up the interest,” McFadden
said. “That is money that does
come to the district. In accordance
with the bond resolution
(the money) will be available
for the bond and interest fund
to help bring down the local mill
levy.”
McFadden said if the school
district waits until 2014 to sell
the last of the bonds, it runs the
risk of interest rates increasing.
Another concern bond
counsel expressed is the uncertainty
of future state aid.
“They are concerned that
bond aid may be something the
state wants to cut,” McFadden
said. “If you can find a way to
accelerate the delivery of those
bonds to the purchasers, you
may grandfather in the bond
for state aid.
“It is possible that the legislature
will say, ‘We will cut
bond aid, but only for future
bonds delivered to the purchaser.
We may have an opportunity
to grandfather those
and really do a favor for our
local mill levy.”
In other business, the board:
• met in executive session
for five minutes to discuss personnel.
No action was taken
when the open meeting resumed.
• approved a $13,000 contract
with demographer Chris
Gralapp for demographic and
enrollment projection services.
Gralapp has been the
district’s demographer for four
years.
• approved an advanced
placement studio art placement
course and a lifetime fitness
elective course. The art course
will begin in the 2013-14 school
year and the fitness course in
2014-15.
• adopted a school calendar
for the 2013-14 school year.

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