Board’s bond refunding takes hit from market
Changes in the bond market caused the Basehor School Board to lose out on about $135,000 in savings during its bond refunding efforts this week.
Board members declared an emergency special meeting Nov. 21 to start the process of refinancing $9.3 million in general obligation bonds from 2007. At the meeting, members waived the written notice required for a special meeting and passed the resolution for underwriter Oppenheimer & Co., and bond counsel Bob Perry to begin preparations to sell the bonds.
Superintendent David Howard said Oppenheimer urged the board to call the emergency special meeting because advantageous rates would allow the district to refund its bonds to save an estimated $800,000.
The final approval for the sale wasn’t approved until the board’s regular meeting Monday, by which time market conditions had changed and estimated savings had fallen to about $665,000.
Perry said there was a small window of opportunity in mid-November to make the most profitable refunding returns, but because the markets are unpredictable and governing bodies are generally slow moving, the district couldn’t reap the highest returns.
“My guess is there was a lot of paper in market because a lot of issuers had opportunities to save money at that time, just like the district tried to do,” Perry said of the returns’ fluctuation.
Perry said although the district’s returns weren’t as high as it may have liked, more than $665,000 is still a great savings for the district.
“We’re very disappointed,” Howard said, “but part of it is just timing and the market.”
Howard said the district is legally allowed to refund only $10 million in bonds each year, but if the markets remain favorable in January, the district may consider refunding another $10 million from its 2007 $39.9 million bond.
Also at the meeting Monday:
• The board announced a special meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the district office before the board’s holiday dinner. Members will vote on new district voting boundaries, which they reviewed Monday at their regular meeting.
Boundaries for positions 2 and 5 need to be adjusted to account for population changes measured in the 2010 census.
Positions 1 and 4 previously had a population of 4,308, positions 2 and 5 had 5,083, and positions 3 and 6 had 2,562. Redistricting would adjust the boundaries’ populations to 3,984 in positions 1 and 4,4047 in positions 2 and 5, and 3922 in 3 and 6.
Howard said he hadn’t realized the discrepancy until recently, most likely because the boundaries hadn’t been adjusted since before the 2000 census. The rush to approve the new districts is due to upcoming election filing deadlines, Howard said.
• Board members approved a change in policy on how Basehor-Linwood High School will rank the top 10 percent of the graduating class. Now, BLHS will designate the top 10 percent by a combination of weighted and un-weighted GPAs starting with the class of 2013, rather than the previous start date of 2015.
The board also approved the elimination of the titles valedictorian and salutatorian in a 6-1 vote with member Eric Dove voting to retain the titles.
For a student to be ranked in the top ten, they must qualify by the combination of weighted and un-weighted GPA and complete the Kansas Board of Regents State Scholar Curriculum, which was previously required to be valedictorian or salutatorian.
• Howard reminded members that school board positions 4, 5 and 6 are up for re-election this spring. Those positions are currently held by Shelley Stevens, position 4; Richard Zamora, position 5; and Gary Johnson, position 6. The filing deadline is Jan. 22.
• Approved 2013-2014 BLHS course proposals for a new health science pathway for students, including the new course medical terminology. Other new courses will be theater design, an extension of play production; accelerated studies and project design, a course for high-achieving students; and remodeling and building maintenance, one course to take the place of electrical and security systems and HVAC and plumbing systems.
• Julian Espinoza of Basehor-Linwood Education Foundation told board members how this year’s Teacher Incentive Grants are being used to start an eighth grade ambassador program and supplement math and reading resources for students throughout the district. Espinoza said about 1,100 students will benefit from the new resources allowed by the BLEF grants.
• BLHS Principal Sherry Reeves reported to the board about her recent trip to Washington, D.C. to accept the National Blue Ribbon award at the national award ceremony.
• After board members reported on their experiences at the Kansas Association of School Boards Convention, Howard recognized Eric Dove, Lori VanFleet and Dayna Miller for earning KASB Honor Roll level one awards for attending association events.
• Approved the resignation of BLMS track coach Erin Tegtmeier, retirement of BLMS building technology teacher Kim Ziegler, and appointments of custodian T.J. Gumm and BLMS building technology teacher Ashton Simon.