The Barr-Reeve School board is moving forward on a bond issue that would open the way for the purchase of a building to use as a new bus barn and expand the number of bus routes the school operates. The school board took the action following a presentation by Jeff Hammond with the financial consulting firm Baker Tilly.
“We estimate the school’s total tax rate will be about the same it is this year, although the debt service rate will increase,” said Hammond.
Barr-Reeve would have the same tax rate because this year is the end of a 15 year pension bond issue for the school system.
“This year we pay off our pension bonds we have had for 15 years,” said School Superintendent Dr. Travis Madison. “What’s presented to us is purchasing the Traylor Trucking Building. We are looking over the next year and one half at taking over our own transportation using our own buses and our own personnel.”
The school system believes that can all be done on the $240,000 annually that was going to the pension fund.
The old Traylor Trucking building would sell at a cost of $310,000, and the school plans to try and purchase $1 million in new buses as it transitions from contract bus routes to those operated by the school system.
“Neighboring school systems have done that,” said Madison. “It’s a little more work for us but then again a significant savings.”
To make the project happen the board has issued a notice of hearing on the project, passed a resolution for reimbursement to the corporation from bond proceeds for any pre-bond sale expenses the school system would incur and advertised the budget which includes the capital projects and bus replacement plans.
“This is a good opportunity for the school for this building to come available right at a time when we have a need for it and some money coming off the tax rate to pay for it,” said school board member Alex Knepp.
The school system is discussing issuing general obligation bonds. For Barr-Reeve those are capped at a little more than $2.25 million. School officials are considering bonding for the maximum amount. “This will give us some room in case there are repairs that need to be made to the building, or we need to buy more buses,” said Madison. “We need some cushion to make certain it will all work.”
The total budget the school system is preparing to advertise is for $10.355 million. “We always put in a lot just in case we have a fall in assessed valuation,” said Madison.
In other business Madison updated the school board on the current construction project, saying that everything scheduled for this summer got done on time. He reported that footers for the new gym should get poured this week.
Also, the board set the fees for the athletic pass and ticket prices. Officials report there is no change from the prices last year, and students can get into the Barr-Reeve games for $1 if they wear a Barr-Reeve shirt.
The board also took some statutory actions that have resulted for the latest session of the legislature. They held a public hearing on pro-formal collective bargaining with teachers.
They also took $57,000 they saved because of a lowered teacher retirement assessment from the state and put that money toward teacher salaries.