Friday, September 23, 2011

USD 383 Board of Education

Sept. 21, 2011
Kathy Dzewaltowski, observer

Work session:
The board held a work session to discuss the sale of the remaining construction bonds ($6,125,000) with the district's bond counsel, PiperJaffray. Board members also wanted to know if it would be possible to keep the bond mill levy at 9.85 mills in light of property valuations being lower, and the answer was yes because interest expenses have been lower than what was estimated. The PiperJaffray representative said the board should be able to maintain 9.85 mills and pay off the bonds in 2030.

Regular meeting:
Dr. Bob Seymour, Associate Superintendent, reported that enrollment on the Sept. 20th official count day was up 66 students, but enrollment in preschool programs needed to be double-checked before the count would be final.

The board approved 7-0 the sale of construction bonds, which had been discussed during the work session.

The board discussed extensively the construction project at Wilson Elementary School and the problems with the project. Leah Fliter had visited the school and noted shoddy work, including doors installed backward, windows that weren't plumb, and new carpeting covered with paint spatters and drywall debris. Fliter also thought the board should have been notified sooner about the project's problems. First Management, the general contractor, hired a new project superintendent, and the district's program manager reported that conditions have since improved. Board members also discussed a pay application made by First Management for $912,000. The construction team and the project architect had reviewed the pay request and felt that some of the work for which payment was being requested was poor and would need to be redone. A reduced amount of $736,000 was agreed upon for materials and satisfactorily completed work. Pete Paukstelis expressed his dissatisfaction with First Management's work and asked administration to find out how USD 383 can go about warning other districts about the company. The board approved 6-1 the pay application, with Darell Edie dissenting.

Dr. Pam Russell, Executive Director of Special Services, presented the board with a proposal to enter into a service contract with aTa bus to transport small groups of students and employees for the district. It currently costs the district $44,000/year to transport these groups, and the district could save $26,000/year by using aTa bus. Walt Pesaresi was concerned about entering into an agreement with aTa bus because the City Commission had decided not to invest money in the bus program and because he was concerned interest in using the aTa bus could mushroom beyond what the district could afford. Russell said that the district is already paying to transport the students and employees who would be using aTa bus, and the proposed service agreement would save on the district's costs. The board approved 7-0 the service contract with aTa bus.

The board reviewed the criteria for redrawing the district's school boundaries. Once the construction projects are completed, the boundary lines will need to be redrawn because some schools will have different capacities. The suggested criteria included following geographic barriers, maintaining contiguous areas, maintaining diverse student demographics, maintaining a "feeder" school system from elementary schools to middle schools, and taking new housing developments into consideration. The board approved 7-0 the redistricting criteria.

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