School board briefs: Board OK's some bond refinancing

March 14, 2007

Board OK's some bond refinancing

The Tonganoxie school district moved forward Monday with plans to refinance about $10 million of the school district's $25.3 million school-construction bonds.

Annie Houlehan, assistant vice president of George K. Baum Co., Kansas City, Mo., told board members the district could save as much as $500,000 over the life of the bonds by refinancing. The savings would include the cost of the refinancing.

"The rates on the current bonds are about 4.6 percent and we think we can get them down to approximately 4 percent," Houlehan said.

Board members voted unanimously to proceed with the process to refinance the bonds, with a minimum savings of $400,000 throughout the remaining life of the original issue.

The 25-year bonds were issued in 2005 and will run through 2030.

Houlehan said it would take about four to five weeks to process the bonds at a lower rate, and if rates increase markedly during this time the district could postpone refinancing the bonds.

'07-'08 calendar OK'd

School board members Monday night approved the district's calendar for the 2007-2008 school year.

Brent Smith, high school assistant principal, said the primary difference between the current school year and the next was that teachers, as well as students, would have off Monday, Jan. 21, which is Martin Luther King Day. On Presidents' Day, which is Monday, Feb. 18, students will not attend school, but teachers will have a workday.

Buses purchased

Tonganoxie school district will start the next school year with at least three new buses.

Monday night board members approved the purchase of two 65-passenger school buses from Allied Bus Sales for $66,024 each, as well as a 15-passenger wheelchair-lift bus from the same firm for $52,876. Allied Bus Sales is in Nixa, Mo., south of Springfield.

Board members also decided to rebid a 65-passenger bus with wheelchair lift so that specifications could include a used bus with 4,000 or fewer miles.

Two representatives of a Bonner Springs firm, Midwest Bus Sales, asked board members to reconsider their bids on two 65-passenger buses. Midwest's bids were $750 higher than the low bids from Allied Bus Sales.

Tonganoxie school Superintendent Richard Erickson said the Bonner Springs firm had provided excellent maintenance and repair service for district buses. However, Erickson said, it was important that the district accept low bids.

"I just believe that we need to respect and honor the low bid," Erickson said.

Board creates post

Board members gave a title to the district's top assistant position, terming the post "director of operations."

At Monday night's school board meeting, board members discussed the proposed duties of the director of operations before approving the position.

The director of operations duties will include: policy, accountability, media spokesperson, legal issues, director of vocational and federal programs and human resources specialist. This includes training of new employees.

The district will begin advertising to fill the newly established administrative position.

Board members also discussed proposed job descriptions for these positions: director of buildings and grounds, counselor, athletic director and school nurse.

New policy urged

During the patrons' comments portion of Monday's school board meeting -- a time when the public is allowed to speak -- April Dohle asked the board to consider adopting a fraternization policy for school employees.

"That could alleviate some of the front-page news in our newspaper and in other newspapers," Dohle said.

Later Dohle said she would like to see the board take a more proactive stance regarding all policies.

"It appears that this district is very much reactive to policy making," Dohle said. "And in a growing district, an evolving district, that's not a good position to take."

Summer school policy under fire

The Tonganoxie school district adopted last fall a policy that makes summer school mandatory for students who do not meet standards on state assessment tests. However, district patron Francie Campbell said she disagreed with the new summer school policy.

Campbell told board members a blanket approach was unfair.

"I just think that the teachers and the parents should have a say in the decision," Campbell said during the patrons' comment portion of Monday's meeting.

She said some children may be working as hard as they can and still be required to attend summer school.

Tammie George, interim grade school principal said other criteria could be used -- in addition to state assessment tests -- when deciding whether a student must attend summer school.

Chieftains praised

Tonganoxie school Superintendent Richard Erickson praised the girls basketball team for its fourth-place title at the state basketball tournament in Salina.

"The girls did an outstanding job at the state tournament," Erickson said. "We're proud of them, they've had quite a tradition here over the last three to four years. I think it's probably one of the most successful sports teams -- of boys and girls -- in the history of the school."

Erickson also congratulated the middle school's science olympiad team, which qualified for the April 7 state tournament in Wichita.

The team placed ninth out of 23 teams in the northeast Kansas regional competition.

These students earned medals at the Feb. 24 competition:

The following students ranked in the top six places:

Other team members include Keith Slater, Matt Titterington, Ben Higbee and Kelsey Stockman.

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