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Chisago Lakes Schools

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June 5, 2020

4/24/2020 10:57:00 AM
Chisago Lakes gets good news on $1.2 million bond sale

At the last Chisago Lakes School Board meeting, there was financial market uncertainty in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time, the board agreed to sell bonds in the amount of nearly $1.2 million to pay for a fire suppression system and new boilers at Taylors Falls Elementary School, but interest rates were fluctuating wildly. At that time, the board authorized a resolution allowing Superintendent Dean Jennissen, Director of Business Services Doug Hasler and a school board member to sell the bonds proactively if the interest rate was below four percent and then approve the sale at the following board meeting.

Two weeks after that meeting, Ehlers & Associates, the company working with the district on the bond sale, estimated that they would get around 2.3 percent interest rate on the sale, but when the bonds were submitted for sale, the district received three bids and one of them came in at 1.48 percent, well below the projections and the early swings of the market.

“It’s a very nice result compared to two weeks ago,” Ehlers associate Greg Crowe said. “The market lost some of its volatility in the last few weeks.”

“Things got uncertain with the markets early,” Hasler added. “But, we’re encouraged with the results.” 

The difference of almost a full percent equals a savings of $56,000 to the district in interest over the life of the bonds. Crowe also added that after review of the bids, not only was the low bid a positive result, it was also made by United Bankers Bank, which  was working with First State Bank of Wyoming on the process. “It’s nice that a local bank got involved with the sale,” Crowe noted. First State Bank has locations in Wyoming and Stacy.

Board vice chair Lori Berg wanted to commend Crowe and Ehlers on the job they did helping the district find a solution to pay for the needed projects that didn’t affect the taxpayers.

The board approved a round of layoffs due  to the COVID-19 situation. Twenty-three food service workers and 41 community ed workers were laid off by the district.

The difficult decision was made with many factors in play. “It seems counterintuitive, but the State is not providing funding for Community Education programs,” Jennissen explained. “They allow for fund transfers, but that would be assuming you have funds to transfer from.  As we know in CL, there are not resources in the General Fund to support Community Education.  Staff funded through the General Fund will be tasked with supporting the Child Care Center at Lakeside  Elementary under the direction of two Child Care leads from Community Education.”

Board chairman Mark Leigh said that we was hopeful that the layoffs would be brief. “Hopefully these workers can take advantage of government funds in the short term and we can get back to working soon,” he said.

Jennissen added, “We are very sad and disappointed to be talking layoffs and we hope we can get back to normal. We’d really like to express our sadness as a district.”

Hasler gave a financial update and noted that while it looks better on paper, there is still a large cost looming in contract negotiations. “Though we see a nice comparison from this year to last, we need to recognize that we’re still in negotiations with Chisago Lakes Education Minnesota (CLEM) and annual steps and increases for teachers have not been made,” he explained.

The board acknowledged the annual Students of Excellence. In a normal year, the students would be recognized at a banquet in St. Cloud with the other top seniors in the region, but with a stay-at-home order in place, that event was obviously cancelled. The students this year were Kaia Davis, Morgan Kieffer, Zach Hennen and Jordan Wojtowicz.

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