9/20/2013 2:16:00 PM Chisago Lakes School Board: bond re-financing saves district dollars
by MATT SILVER
The Chisago Lakes School Board met September 12 for a regular meeting.
With Chair Mark Leigh absent, the board heard a presentation about a mobile phone app. The school will be given free rein to use the app, FindIt!, at their discretion.
The board agreed that mobile notification is the wave of the future and approved the use of FindIt!
The board then heard from Greg Crowe of Ehlers & Associates. The district uses Ehlers for bonding. Crowe informed the board an opportunity to refund a bond has presented itself that could save the district close to a million dollars. Currently, the school owes $9,995,000 in bonds. The $9.9 million is left over from the $16.3 bonded in 2005. The district currently is paying around four percent in interest. The refinancing would lower that rate to close to 2.5 percent, freeing up an additional $835,379 that would have otherwise been spent on interest over nine years.
Board member Jerry Vitalis made a motion to call for bids which was voted in favor unanimously.
The board then heard from Chisago Lakes Business Services Director Heidi Miller on the subject of title appropriations. The district receives federal ESEA (Elementary Secondary Education Act) funds, through the state. The funds are then used for free/reduced lunch rates. This year the funds will be allocated to Taylors Falls and Lakeside elementary schools. Title I is $195,145.76, and it pays for two reading teachers at Taylors Falls and one reading teacher at Lakeside.
Title II is used for class size reduction and professional development for teachers. That amount is $86,491. Title funds are lower this year than last year due to the sequester - $38,000 less in Title I and $4000 less in Title II.
The board then discussed a parcel of land it owns at the intersection of Furuby Road and Upland Road. Geronimo Energy has inquired about purchasing the land for solar energy use. The board committee met with representatives of Geronimo last week. An adjacent landowner ha expressed disapproval of the solar panels and has also offered to purchase the land. The school has no intention of building on the land. The topic will be discussed at the September 26 meeting.
The council then discussed signing a contract with Washington County for use of parcel data software that includes current parcel ownership. The software allows Chisago Lakes to more easily schedule transportation. The district can see how far a home is from a particular bus stop and also where each student lives. The school received the software for free, the only requirement was a signed contract.
The Board also discussed snow removal contracts. The school had received three bids for snow removal which ranged from $21,000 to $24,000.
The board voted to a J & H Outdoor Service the snow contract.
If it snows less than 30 inches of snow, J & H will provide a credit of 20 percent, and if the snowfall is over 80 inches, it will add 20 percent to the bill. The contract passed unanimously. The board then okayed a proposal from Chisago Lakes Achievement Center for two workers from CLAC to work at the high school, usually during lunch. Miller told the board CLAC contracts for two workers, but they have been sending four. The board voted in favor of the contract unanimously.
Bob Meyer from Chisago Lakes Community Education asked the board for permission to apply for three grants. The first grant would be from the Chisago Lakes Foundation and would fund an after school youth theatre program at the elementary and middle schools. The second grant would be from ECRAC for $1,500 and would fund after school arts. The third grant would also be from ECRAC and would give $6,000 towards the daddy daughter dance. The board unanimously voted in favor of the grant applications.
The board discussed an October 7 fundraiser cruise on the St. Croix River. Open to the public, the cruise is about an hour and a half and features dinner and entertainment. The public is invited to contact the district office for tickets.