By CHRISTY JANKOWSKI
On October 21, the Cerro Gordo School Board met in the auditorium as they have since May with two board members meeting virtually. Tim King, from Kings Financial and Consulting presented an option to refinance some existing bonds, with the potential of the addition of two million dollars. King stated that due to the impact of COVID interest rates are lower than he thought would be possible at this time. “…so we never really expected we would be refinancing savings anytime soon, until covid hits.”
The board is looking at an array of options.
The State increased working cash bond limits last summer, allowing Cerro Gordo Schools to borrow up to 80 percent, increasing their working cash limit.
King went through the district’s existing financials touching on the bonds they currently own, “These are the bonds that you own- taxable which you are earning 3% on now which looks like an awesome investment.”
As far as which bonds to refinance, King stated they are looking at the Series 2018 bonds which are currently at $7,025,500, and the leftover amount in 2011. “All we are looking at is possible refinancing the 18’s and 2011, equaling up to 6 million dollars that we would potentially be refinanced for savings.” Adding later, “There is no world we don’t want to refinance at the minimum. At least refinance this and get the savings locked in, the only question is do you want to borrow some money on top of that and restructure the repayment?”
The board is potentially looking at the option of borrowing two million to use some for increasing the debt limit, while saving some back for future health, life, and safety projects, and putting some directly towards refacing the brick on part of the older additions.
Why is the district in this position? King states it largely has to do with farmland growth. “Never a district of your size have we recommended that, but now with the new farmland formula for the last five years, we know that for sure you will going to be seeing farmland growth for at least 20 years.”
King went on to add that the productivity index cites that farmland per acre will continue to increase each year by at least 5-6 percent in the Cerro Gordo area. Because of this King states the board could borrow a million today for roughly $350,000.
The board discussed various options. Board President Tony PIriano leaned towards the full two million. “I am just saying take out the full two and maximize our debt service extension with no intention of spending that extra million, because when that five year Health, life, and safety comes out, we don’t know what is going to show up. We don’t want to take out money then when the rate might be much higher, so we got that and reinvest for the next 5 years.”
The board is looking at making a decision before the end of the year. Last year the board petitioned to borrow up to two million within three years, so legally there is nothing stopping them from refinancing to borrowing two million. King ended with, “the only thing that stops you now is political pressure, nothing legally.”
Damien Schlitt from BLDD architects presented their plan for refacing certain portions of brick on the 1962 section and the 2000 addition of the Junior and Senior High building. Part of the refacing is cosmetic, but a large portion needs replaced as some pieces of the brick are crumbling. This was discussed during the referendum, but as there were various pieces that had to be cut, this portion was one of those that was delayed.
The board briefly discussed possibly doing a mural for the south side 2000 addition all facing the football field. This would potentially lower the costs. Windows in the locker room will also be replaced. No formal action except “As far as action, known that we are going to do this I can get the ball rolling.” stated Schlitt. A copy of the contract was sent to Superintendent Brett Robinson.
The Elementary Principal Jodi Neaveill stated even with doing parent teacher conferences virtually, one hundred percent of parents were contacted. The 3rd-6th graders put on a Vocabulary parade last week. Piraino stated, “my kids loved the vocabulary parade, they got really into that. So, good idea there.” Neaveill replied, “We wore our masks and socially distanced, so good day.”
Junior and Senior High Principal Jeremy Rodebaugh stated that they have twenty students participating in the Richland Community College Transfer Academy, “We have 20 students participating in the transfer academy which I think is our all-time high.” stated Robinson.
Rodebaugh stated that many kids placed well, and the total number of students that received dual credit last year was over 50. With only 75 Juniors and Seniors last year, that is a large percentage.
Robinson reported about the teacher’s meeting prior to the board’s meeting. 6th grade teacher, Sarah Bone, presented the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. The students, calling themselves “CG Big Brains” will compete on March 3rd by making a machine to shake and pour a box of nerds. Board member Rodd Runyen added, “We should also point out they contacted the nerds company and they paid for their entry fee and sent a box of nerds for each student.” Neavill joked, “lots of nerds.”
Robinson added Elementary teacher Sydney McCrae brought up concerns of no staff wifi for the teacher’s personal devices. The district is requiring this after the multiple Ddos attacks this fall, as it is the recommendation of their technical consulting company, Quality Network Solutions. “Sydney shared that the teachers use their phones for apps for school purposes and that one of the things that gets hindered is the parent teacher communication component.”
“Have been in communication with qns on this topic to have a happy medium to allow the staff wifi to be reinstated but be done in such a way if it did negatively impact our ability to use the internet for zoom and google meets for our remote learners.”