Archive for Thursday, March 19, 2009

USD 491 sells bonds to avoid flooded market

March 19, 2009

A possible flooded bond market this summer led the Eudora USD 491 Board of Education to offer for sale $11.25 million in school construction bonds.

The board came to the resolution during Thursday’s meeting when Steve Shogren, district bond counsel, suggested that the sale of the bonds could be more difficult when school districts that recently passed bond issues — Wichita, De Soto, Garden City and Manhattan — also began to sell bonds.

“The possibility of the market being flooded was one of the more important points,” Eudora Superintendent Don Grosdidier said. “The other issue too is the potential bills in the Legislature on state aid for bonded interest. By April, we should know whether or not that’s going to be a factor.”

One of the bills Grosdidier was referring to was Senate Bill 20, which would cut all state aid for construction bonds issued between Jan. 1, 2009, and June 30, 2011.

Eudora is a 39 percent state aid district, so the state pays for 39 percent of the principal and interest on bonds.

Eudora voters passed a $45 million bond issue in November 2007.

If SB 20 were to be pass, the state would aid the district with just $11.25 million in bonds. That would leave about $34.75 million worth of bonds for which the state would not aid the district.

The board also cut approximately $15,000 from the budget, decreasing money spent on window washing services and discontinuing uniform services for its custodial staff.

The Jump Start program, which allows at risk student in the primary grades to start school early, also will not happen this year. But Grosdidier said the cut was attributed as much to the budget as it was the fact that the district will be moving into new facilities during the time when Jump Start would meet.

“There’s going to be a certain amount of upheaval in terms of moves and we wouldn’t necessarily have space at Nottingham or the new elementary school to run that program,” he said.

The board also will mull cutting student custodial positions, the spring play at the high school, as well as contracted substitute teaching services from Morgan Hunter and student population forecasters RSP Associates.

The board has cut about $130,000 out of the budget, and all cuts are on a year-to-year basis.

The district had been preparing for cuts of up to 18 percent for next year’s budget. But on March 9, the House Appropriations Committee approved Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ budget amendment on school funding, which takes into consideration dollars coming from Washington, D.C., through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A Senate subcommittee has taken similar action.

If this proposal gains full House and Senate majorities and the governor’s signature, then school funding will essentially stay flat for the next two school years.

Grosdidier said that if deep budget cuts are made at the state level, then the district would form a community advisory committee in April to help guide the district in making further cuts.

However, he was hopeful that Sebelius’ amendment would pass and that the committee wouldn’t be necessary.

The regular legislative session ends April 3, so Grosdidier and the board will know more about budget cuts by the next board meeting, which will be April 9.

In other actions, the board:

• Approved a $1,000 donation to the All-Night Prom.

— Scott Rothschild contributed to this report.

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