The Monett R-1 Board of Education authorized the refinancing of bonds that will save the district $415,000 over the life of the bonds.
Larry Hart, president of LJ Hart and Company, and Allan Crader, regional representative, spoke to the board about the opportunity to buy back bonds from the district's last construction project. The district can refinance bonds totaling $6.85 million and drop a full percentage in the interest paid.
Board members authorized the bond repurchase and resale through the services of Hart.
In other financial action, the board decided against further efforts to sell the construction technology class's last house as a structure for the new owner to move. Instead, the board agreed to move the house to lots owned by the district on the southwest corner of Eighth and Scott streets.
Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann said the district had purchased three lots on the corner when land became available. Periodically the land has served as a parking area. Jungmann said the house will take up one-and-a-half lots, leaving the district with land along Scott for use another day.
Board members set an annual tuition rate of $7,515 for the coming year. While the district does not accept tuition paying students, Jungmann said state law requires a tuition rate. If a family owns property in the school district and lives elsewhere, the family has the option of sending a child to the district. State law allows a deduction from taxes paid to the district for tuition costs.
Jungmann said no one has ever tried to use a tax deduction for tuition. The district has to set a tuition rate just in case.
Walls on the Monett Elementary School construction began going up last week. While updating the board on building progress, Jungmann said the district now has an option to expand the kitchen at the school. The approval of funds through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the new gym frees district money for other projects.
The kitchen at Monett Elementary has always been crowded. Jungmann said the construction plan calls for placing three exterior walls already. Adding one more to expand the kitchen will allow a 425 square foot expansion at a cost of around $35 per square foot, a third of normal construction. Board members approved the addition.
State moves possible
Jungmann briefed the board on two issues concerning state oversight of local schools. State revenues remain "lukewarm," leaving funding for the school year again in doubt. He expected the situation to clarify after the holidays.
State officials have suggested making changes in the A+ program. Instead of basing benefits on meeting standards and serving a set number of hours on tutoring, the state is now considering requiring all recipients to pass the Algebra I end of course exam.
"We've never had a high stakes test like that," Jungmann said. "If you look statewide, only 60 percent of students scored at the proficient rate. If you require all students to be proficient, it could significantly reduce the number of students getting A+ benefits. We'll continue to monitor that. The state is seeking feedback.
Monett High School Principal David Steward and Southwest Area Career Center Director Brad Hanson discussed upgrading dual credit offerings. The Career Center is looking at an online program taught by a teacher in the consortium sending students to the center. Dual credit would be available through Drury University. Steward is still studying which university to use.
"We want students as many opportunities as possible to get a head start with college credit before they leave," Jungmann said.
Business classes at the Career Center may see significant change in the coming year. Hanson said most high school already have business classes offering computer applications and web design at their own schools. To offer something otherwise not available, the Career Center is moving toward a marketing focus. Students will learn more about sales and making a presentation, as opposed to running a program or an office.
Board members approved the filing dates for the April, 2011 election as Dec. 14 to Jan. 18, 2011. Board members whose terms expire will be David Beckett, Rod Anderson and Scott Beckwith.
The date for the next monthly meeting was set for Dec. 20.