Archive for Thursday, December 20, 2001

School plans advance with sale of bonds

December 20, 2001

The new high school is a few steps closer to reality since the Eudora Board of Education authorized the sale of $8 million in bonds and interviewed candidates for construction consultant.

At the Dec. 13 meeting, the district's financial adviser, Steve Shogren of Claymore Securities, told the board the district received seven competitive bids ranging from an interest rate of 5.10 percent to a low bid by Morgan Keegan and Co. with a 4.49 percent interest rate.

"I'm a bit disappointed," Shogren said. "The market's gone softer in the last 30 days."

Overall, Shogren said, the district should consider itself lucky because some bonds in other communities aren't getting any bids.

The board could choose to accept the low bid from Morgan Keegan and Co. or it could reject all bids. The board chose the former.

Board member Bob Rice asked Shogren if there would be a good reason not to accept the low bid at this time. Shogren told Rice since he can't predict what the market might do in the future, this seemed like a good bet.

"I wish we could have sold 30 days ago, but that's impossible," he said.

The district was set to receive $160,000 as a measure of good faith and the rest of the $8 million Dec. 22. Shogren told the district it could earn a little more interest by investing money.

"Keeping your money in the local economy is what I think is best to do," he said.

Board member Brenda Clark agreed. Superintendent Marty Kobza said the district used Kaw Valley Bank for the last set of bonds and that he'd research what they had to offer.

Shogren said the interest could help offset costs associated with the bonds and help control the mill levy in the first year.

The second $8 million bond will go up for sale early in 2002. More than a month ago the board decided to split the bond sale because it made the bonds easier to sell since it is more cost-effective for purchasers, and because the market could be more favorable in the future.

After the board made its decision, Shogren said, "I know you're not going to like to hear this, Carlie (Abel, board member), but congratulations, you're $8 million in debt."

The board also pushed forward with hiring a construction consultant by setting a special board meeting Dec. 19 to conduct interviews and also review the schematic design and HVAC system for the new school.

Kobza said he had three interested community members and an architecture instructor from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

"You have a real cross-section in terms of people," Kobza said, mentioning how each candidate had different experiences in construction.

Kobza said he talked to area schools that have used a construction consultant and asked them how they handled fees. He said fees were about $60 to $80 per hour, and the district could choose to pay the person hourly with a "not to exceed" limit, or it could estimate how many hours the person would put in per week and negotiate the price for the term of the project.

Board member Joe Pyle said he thought it would be hard to hire on a construction consultant full-time.

"They've got their own regular job they're doing," he said.

In essence, Kobza said, the person they hire will be someone who will double check to make sure things are happening the way they should and someone to interpret what's happening for the board.

"This is a person who will break (it) downand say this is what it will really mean," he said. "We may choose not to do what they advise us to."

Kobza said he thought he and the construction consultant should have a weekly walk-through to keep the district updated on the school.

In other school board news:

Kobza discussed the possibility of having a district-wide newsletter as well as changing the Web site so that the district would have its own domain name. The first issue should be out around Feb. 1, he said, and would cost about $500 per issue in postage.

Kobza said he had former organizer for the bond committee Kim Schulz in mind to put together the newsletters since she had experience creating fliers and other material for the bond issue. She would be hired on an hourly basis to begin with and later on a monthly basis, he said.

The newsletter should have pictures of students and look aesthetically attractive, said Kobza, who looked at what other districts had for newsletters.

"This is something we want to do right if we do it," he said.

Board member Greg Neis said the Kansas Association of School Boards puts out awards for school newsletters in the state. Neis said he'd like to see the district take a look at those examples.

The board also made an exception to a policy requiring a district employee present when outside groups use the facilities unless they are affiliated with Eudora Recreation. Because one of the Eudora Kids Wrestling Club sponsors is a substitute teacher, the board agreed to make her the designated district employee for no longer than the duration of this wrestling season. The policy is in place to protect the district against law suits.

The board passed a resolution to commend the Eudora High School football team for its successful season.

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