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Paynesville Press - May 19, 2004

School board bond refund saves taxpayers money

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Area School Board took the following actions at a special meeting on Tuesday, May 4.

*The board approved refunding its 2000 bond issue, used to build the auditorium and fitness center. The move is akin to refinancing a mortgage, with the school districting refunding the $3.1 million bond issue in order to lower its interest rate and save taxpayer money.

The current 20-year bonds had an average interest rate of 5.7 percent, while the new issue has an average rate of 4.3 percent. Starting in 2011, the refunding will save district taxpayers around $20,000 per year. Through 2020, when the bond issue is fully repaid, the reissue will save taxpayers over $200,000.

This savings will reduce the amount district taxpayers will have to pay for debt retirement in the school portion of their property taxes. It is a savings to the taxpayers and does not directly help the district's financial operations.

The board held a special meeting to approve this refunding in order to get the most advantageous rate interest rate possible.

The Paynesville Area School Board took the following actions at their regular meeting on Tuesday, May 11.

*The board met in the afternoon in the middle school media center in order to meet with the middle school and high school advisory councils.

The high school students asked for another college visit/job shadow day as juniors and seniors, increasing this from two days as juniors and seniors to three. They also asked to be able to use these excused absences in half-day increments.

The board asked principal John Janotta to research this issue and to report back to the board. The high school students also expressed a concern over lockers having sharp points. The district is planning to sand and repaint these lockers this summer, and Janotta had announced that any student whose locker had a sharp edge should report it to the office. The students also suggested that this information be included in the bulletin.

The high school students also expressed concerns that the school's dress code was not being enforced strictly enough; that the high school parking lot needed to be repainted; and that something needed to be done about the awkward intersection in the northeast corner. All the students, both middle and high school, agreed that they needed to practice the procedure for an emergency lockdown.

On this last point, administrators said that in the wake of Rocori they thought even practicing a lockdown might be too emotional but they agreed with the board that the time may be right now to ensure that students know the basics of these emergency procedures.

*The board approved a five-year plan for capital expenditures, including spending $247,200 in 2004-05. In later years, the plan also includes more roof replacements. The board also was informed that since capital funding is based on pupil units, with declining enrollment, the district is receiving less revenue for capital expenditures, while its facilities have remained the same, thus causing a dwindling balance in its capital fund. From 2003 to 2005, the balance in the capital expenditure fund is expected to drop from $213,000 to $147,000.

*The board approved granting tenure to the following teachers at the conclusion of the 2003-04 school year: Ross Engelstad, Rachel Nelson, Tracey Piepenburg, Gregg Kapsner, Jackie Parsley, and Leza Weber.

*The board approved hiring another Early Childhood Special Education teacher and increasing a part-time speech clinician position from 0.4 FTE to 0.5 FTE. These teacher increases were prompted by heavy caseloads. The district will be reimbursed for these expenses but after a delay of two years.

*The board approved an extended employment assignment for special education teacher Jane Hjelle for ten hours of work with a student this summer.

*The board approved an updated bloodborne pathogens plan.

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