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Ballot language drafted to ask voters for approval of no tax bond increase

Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 8:36 am

A diagram of Van-Far Elementary School showing the proposed early childhood addition (in red) and remodeled pods (purple).

A diagram of Van-Far Elementary School showing the proposed early childhood addition (in red) and remodeled pods (purple).

With just one “No” vote from board member Larry Wheeler, the Van-Far R-I Board of Education approved its fourth no tax bond increase since 2006 during its monthly board meeting last Thursday. Board member Kimber Nation was unable to attend the meeting due to a prior commitment.
The board passed a resolution for a bond issue in the amount of $2.161 million and approved ballot language to be turned into Audrain County by the January 27 deadline so the question will be posed to voters in the April 7 election.
“Our net service levy will cover this without an increase,” said Van-Far Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hunter. “We don’t have to increase our debt service levy, which is $0.6099.”
Superintendent Dr. Hunter said the 2006 bonds will be paid off next year. He noted that the bond capacity is $4 million and the district is well within that capacity. The bond would be for 15 years.
“So we (could) have one go off and one come on,” he added.
Wheeler was concerned that the process was being rushed too quickly to the ballot.
“But to me, we just kind of rushed getting this on the ballot and we still don’t know what we’re going to do or not do,” Wheeler said. “I’m sorry, I’m just not in favor of this.”
Board member Pete Nasir noted that the school is not going to maintain itself. He said interest rates are low now but will go up and reminded the board that  the debt service levy is not increasing.
He also said all of his children survived the elementary pods but all complained about them as well.
Board member Dr. Greg Frost said he thought all of the proposed changes were needed. He noted that the cost of construction may never be less, he said the interest rate was very favorable, and there’s no tax increase.
Both Nasir and Dr. Frost said they didn’t feel the district was rushing anything.
Superintendent Dr. Hunter reminded those in attendance that the process of reviewing possible facility upgrades began with a survey taken last Fall.
The results included an emphasis on early childhood education, parking, and the elementary pods.
“The focus of the feedback is these were all good things and relevant things,” Dr. Hunter noted.
Dr. Hunter then reviewed Study 1 and Study 2 as discussed in a work session held two weeks ago with Porter, Berendzen & Associates Architecture.
He noted proposal revisions, bonding capacity, off-set funding, and a no-tax increase bond amount.
Study 1 had a price tag of $1.6 million, Study 2 had a price tag of $1.8 million and Study 2 with alternates offered a $2.161 million bond.
The board passed a resolution for a bond issue in the amount of $2.161 million, which was the price tag on the Study 2 with alternates.
The measure would allow the district to do the following:
High School – Replace 23 classroom doors at $1,200 per door, new asphalt on main south parking lot, new concrete parking that is in the proximity of the school marquis (as it just expands the lot a bit), and a new gravel parking strip behind the school near where the Junior High football team practices.
Elementary School – A new 3,200 square foot addition to be built on the front part of the building for early childhood education to get the kids out of the trailers and into one building. It also will involve remodeling the South Pods and remodeling of boys and girls public restrooms. The existing exterior storefront in the area of the North Pods will be replaced. Kindergarten classrooms will also be divided with new partitions and doors into classrooms.
Existing Parking Lots-Compete replacement of approximately 23,2000 square foot of asphalt. Some asphalt will be replaced with new concrete to handle busses. A new 6’ wide addition to the drive lane with new concrete along with added gravel nose-in parking on the south side of the elementary school.
The total with alternates is $1.975 million plus 6-7% design fees and 4-5% contingency.
“There’s not a single thing on here that won’t benefit the kids of the district,” said Board President Christy Nelson.
“The focus of the feedback (in the survey) is these were all good things and relevant things,” Dr. Hunter noted.
The official ballot language will read “Shall the Board of Education of the Van-Far R-I School District, Missouri, borrow money in the amount of Two Million One Hundred Sixty-One Thousand Dollars ($2,161,000), resulting in no estimated increase to the debt service property tax levy, for the purpose of providing funds to complete facility improvements including addition of an Early Childhood facility, upgrades and elimination of current pod classrooms, parking lot repairs and replacement, classroom and exterior door upgrades, and other remodeling and repair improvements to the existing facilities of the District; and issue bonds for the payment thereof?  If this proposition is approved, the adjusted debt service levy of the School District is estimated to remain unchanged at $0.6099 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation of real and personal property.”
With Nation absent, the board also nominated Jim Hopke as acting secretary for the purposes of the meeting.
During his report, Superintendent Dr. Hunter reported a total enrollment of 609 students, with 240 in the Jr./Sr. High School and 369 in the Elementary School.
He did note that the LED canopy lighting has been installed.
It was noted from the state website that grades 3-8 will be tested this year. The 11th grade students will take the ACT and preparation for Spring testing is underway. There is also going to be an MSIP-5 revision.
School Board Recognition Week is January 25-31.
Superintendent Dr. Hunter thanked the board members for their service and presented each with MSBA certificates to recognize their efforts towards children and the community.
Van-Far Elementary Principal Brian Hummel noted the following:
• PTO sponsored a Safety & Bullying Night.
• The last week of January will be the Booster Club 5th and 6th grade basketball tournaments.
• February 10 is the next PTO meeting.
• A Family Date Night is being planned.
Van-Far Jr./Sr. High Principal Cindy Pirch reported that teachers are working with Ginny Vandelicht, from RPDC, to unwrap priority standards, write rigor assessments from those standards and use the smarter balanced assessments. These would be used for EOC testing.
She also reported:
• Sophomores have received information on the Vo-Tech program and an open house will be held February 19.
• On February 2, FBLA is hosting the Pink-Out game vs Montgomery County. This is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
• Speech and Drama will hold auditions February 3 for their musical “Beauty and the Beast,” to be presented in April.
• February 4 is the EMO Conference Band Concert and Art Show in Wright City.
• On March 4, there will be Severe Weather Assembly
Davis reported 104 contracted A+ students and noted 15 Class of 2015 A+ students in her report.
In her Special Education submitted report, it was noted that two Ipads were purchased with money awarded to use from the Ed French Foundation.
Transportation Director Charlie Stroker said repairs are being made to busses to prepare for inspections.
Student Recognition
Joy Davis introduced the winners of the V.F.W. Post No. 2173 Ladies Auxiliary Essay Contest.
The Patriot’s Pen Essay Certificates of Merit, for 300-400 word essays titled “Why I Appreciate American’s Veterans” were presented to:
1) Micahela Franke, daughter of Jamie and Christy Franke; 2) Madalyn Cole, daughter of Michael and Leila Cole; 3) Jayle Jennings, daughter of Joe and Robyn Jennings
Principal Pirch presented Cole with her second place certificate.
The other participants included Jordan Garner, Emily Humphrey, Tessia Kuda, and Halynna Yager.
The Ladies Auxiliary encourages students in grades 6-8 to enter the contest this Fall with a deadline of November 1.
Udelhoven to retire
A letter of resignation was approved for Terri Udelhoven. Udelhoven has decided to retire after teaching with the district for 28 years
“I hope I have inspired my students to love learning as much as I have loved teaching,” she said in her letter.
In Executive Session, the board members present approved Superintendent Dr. Hunter’s evaluation.
The board approved the consent agenda as well as the M.U.S.I.C. Insurance renewal addendum. The assessment is up 10% due to the elimination of the Surplus Allocation Credit.
There is a new Cyber Insurance option that covers liability in electronic items.
Joe Basinger and Angie Noel announced that this year’s VFTA Carnival and Fish Fry is set for 5-8 p.m. on March 27. The event is a fundraiser for scholarships.
A thank you card was received from Alan and Teresa Winders, thanking the board for the memorial stone in memory of Clinton Winders.
The board approved MSBA Policies ADF (District Wellness Program), EF (Food Service Management), and IND (Ceremonies and Observances).
A surplus list of items were approved. This included one set of four used mud/snow tires. They are size 11R-22.5, with approximately 1/4 of tread remaining.
With two bids received for the removal and demolition of the damaged early childhood trailer, one bid for $200 was accepted to remove and dispose of the trailer.
Incumbents Dr. Greg Frost and Pete Nasir were the only candidates to file by the January 20 deadline, so there will not be an election in April.