Jefferson West board opts for no-interest money
by Clarke Davis
The USD 340 Board of Education approved a resolution Monday night to assume a debt of $600,000.
The money is almost interest free and will be used to make needed improvements to buildings and construct a bus barn.
The funds will be paid back over a period of 17 years from the capital outlay fund at the rate of $36,000 a year, the amount that 1 mill will now raise.
Superintendent Scott Myers learned of the available funds a couple of months ago and first proposed borrowing $1 million. (The payback would have been $937,000, or negative interest.)
Since the district is now borrowing less, Myers said the savings will also be less. The payback on the $600,000 will be $606,000, which is a slight interest rate of a fraction of a percent.
The board believes it is a bargain to acquire the money for some immediate needs, but were not all in agreement on the larger amount.
“The improvements will make a better environment and save the district money,” Myers said.
The list of projects approved are:
- Replacing the windows and glass doors in the older portions of the elementary school, $83,000.
- Replace most of the heating and air conditioning units in the high school, $120,000.
- Remodel a set of bathrooms in the elementary building, $30,000.
- Raze the bus barn and Quonset buildings and build a new bus barn, $367,000.
Myers said the bus barn would have room for four buses and provide space for doing maintenance work. Storage space would also be included.
The resolution, which will be published the next couple of weeks is subject to a protest petition within 30 days of publication.
Myers’ only caution was the renewal of the five-year capital outlay levy, which is also subject to a protest petition down the road.
Board member Linda Jones-Giltner encouraged the board to accelerate improvements to the restrooms at the elementary school, spending the money out of capital outlay and adding another project to the bond money. It was determined that it could not be done more quickly, so it will remain part of the bond.
The elementary gym is being used more for practice and freshman games since the closing of the Ozawkie school.
Negotiations are proceeding with Keystone, the special education cooperative, to rent the Ozawkie school building.
Keystone is interested in consolidating their classrooms and offices in the building, which is centrally located and would save the cooperative money. The cooperative is funded by the six Jefferson County school districts and Effingham.
Discussion around the table concerned a three- to four-year lease at $12,000 a year with Keystone paying all the expenses and upkeep of the building or $25,500 with the Jefferson West district providing maintenance.
Board member Jeff Van Petten was quick to encourage the board to sell the building and get out from under it.
Talks are in the beginning stage.
In other business, the superintendent reported that after the final audit the district will republish its budget to gain an additional $27,682. He is also appealing a decision on the attendance of one student that might gain the district another $4,000.
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