The Verona R-7 School District approved refinancing of the district's outstanding debt from building the high school during the Board of Education's November meeting.
With the assistance of the L.J. Hart and Company investment banking firm, the board refinanced its Series 2008 lease certificates of participation. The remaining $785,000 was sold at an average interest rate of 1.81 percent, compared to an average rate of 4.44 percent on the callable portion of the certificates.
Through the refinancing, the district reduced its future interest expense by $91,099 and shortened the final repayment period by two full years. The savings was $9,418 grater than had been projected in August.
"This plan allows us to repay the high school financing two years earlier than we planned and does not materially change our existing annual lease payments," said Superintendent Bill Sweet. "In the end, the interest savings can be applied to our overall education program."
The new certificates have the option to buy back outstanding debt in 2016 without penalty.
"If interest rates are lower in 2016 or later, we can take advantage of that," said Donnie Craft, board president. "Meanwhile, we are locking in these levels that are over 2.5 percent lower than they were in 2008."
Because of thorough preparation of the district's paperwork, L.J. Hart was able to secure an "A" rating from Standard and Poors for the new certificates.
"Based on the pricing of other financings on Nov. 15, the date firm rates were proposed to the district, and the national indexes for 'A' rated leases, our rates were as good as or better than other negotiated sales for a similar quality level of lease issue," Sweet added.
In other action, Protel Systems, of Springfield, was awarded a contract for approximately $17,000 to install wireless Internet service in all the school buildings. Installation will be completed when students return to classes on Jan. 3, 2013.
The board approved extra duty pay to Dora Pinkley as the girls' assistant basketball coach and Colt Pruente as the boys' assistant basketball coach.
Denny Mayne was hired as the head custodian and maintenance person.
Board members approved putting carpet in four elementary classrooms and in the superintendent's office.
Sweet reported the central office will be closed from Dec. 20 to Jan 2, 2013. The regular meeting in December was scheduled for Dec. 18.
Costs have stayed down for the district this year, Sweet said. Spending for electricity remains down by more than $500. The number of sick days used by staff is half of the amount used during the last two years.
Elementary counselor Julie Rysted provided her annual report on services provided. A full-time counselor was added to the elementary staff this year.
"Having a full-time counselor in the building has already change the school culture in a positive way," Rysted said. "Teachers have someone to turn to when a child is acting out or exhibiting troubling behaviors in class, rather than immediately treating them as a discipline referral."
Students were exhibiting better conflict resolution skills and discipline referrals had become minimal, Rysted added. She recommended adding guidance classes for pre-school children and funding more supplies along with student rewards.
High school counselor Anna Lamar reported she is researching adding to the one dual credit course now offered during the coming school year. Verona is also now an ACT testing center, providing better information to help college placement and graduation rates.
Lamar said the addition of testing duties on a position that is half-time counselor and half-time A+ coordinator makes efficiency difficult. She recommended relieving the counselor of testing obligations.
School nurse Margaret Kleiboeker reported on assistance provided by Cox Monett Hospital's Cardiac Kids program, the Cox Care Mobile, free monthly programs from the Lawrence County Health Department and free asthma education and treatment through Cox for fourth through sixth grades. Sixth grade students were preparing a skit on how to "whack the flu" to present to the younger grades.
High school principal Terry Winton reported an assembly was held on Missouri Internet crimes to alert students to the dangers of sexting and smartphone crimes.
Elementary principal Jeannie Abeln indicated teachers and administrators were using the PD 360 program. Staff can now view examples of good teaching in progress from iPads or computers without attending separate professional development programs that take them out of the classroom.