The Gilmer School Board on Monday night approved selling about $6.25 million in Unlimited Tax Refunding Bonds, a move which the school’s financial consultant estimated will save GISD about $1.3 million.
The district had saved $1,277,000 by refinancing $8.8 million of bonds for the 2003-2004 year last January, but delayed financing more of the bonds for tax reasons, said Ed Moore, vice-president of Southwest Securities’ Longview office. He proposed refinancing the $6.25 million balance of the optional bonds.
The existing bonds’ interest rate is 4.6 percent, but if current rates hold, the new bonds’ rate will be 2.5 percent, Moore told the board. The sale will close in January after interest rates are locked in next month, he said.
Combined with last January’s refunding, said Moore, the new refinancing will save GISD between $130,000-150,000 yearly, which School Supt. Rick Albritton termed “a real savings.”
The board approved the new sale with the stipulation it be within certain parameters. They include that the district must save at least a certain minimum amount of money in the sale.
Albritton noted Moore will soon retire, and praised the longtime financial consultant, noting he had worked with Moore when Albritton worked for the Longview and Ore City Independent School Districts. The superintendent joked to Moore that “(we’ll) probably make sure you have a lifetime spot in the Yamboree for this” latest cost-saving move.
In other business Monday, the board approved seeking bids for a change order which would enlarge the originally-planned size of the new press box for Buckeye Stadium.
Albritton said he had talked to Phil Thacker, architect for the $1.8-million stadium renovation that will also include adding hundreds of additional seats, about expanding the press box by about 700 square feet. The superintendent said that would allow putting a “lot more things” in the box, adding more places for film crews, a room for scouts, and what could be a “suite” for school board members.
With the renovation, he said, the stadium will be “much more sellable” to small schools seeking a site for their football playoff games.
Albritton also said one school has a lottery in which five persons win tickets to sit in the press box.
He additionally noted that in the new 2-story press box, Gilmer coaches will sit in the center while coaches from the opposing school are “going to have pretty bad seats.” Albritton said that was “strictly my idea.”
Trustees also accepted the tax collection and financial reports after Albritton criticized the state government for reducing aid to the district.
“Last year, we reduced our staff by about 28 employees,” he said. But, using a “conservative approach” financially, “our staff did not change a lot this year,” Albritton said.
When Board Member Mike Tackett asked if the school had caused a “deficit” for any students, Albritton replied, “We have not. The State of Texas has (by cutting aid).”
The superintendent said the school has reduced tutorial programs and the number of classroom teachers, and “we’re asking everybody to” do more.
In other business Monday night, the board:
--Took no action on appointing a long-range planning committee after Albritton said the district was still trying to hear back from some persons invited to be on it.
--Accepted a bid on fuel for 2012-13 from the only bidder, Jackson Oil. It is the school’s current fuel provider.
--Approved a list of local vendors it can use, but did not limit business to those on the list.
After a closed session on personnel, trustees also accepted the resignations of high school teacher Glenda Boggs and elementary teacher Kate Koehn, said GISD Secretary Judy Moore.
The board also honored three staff members with the GISD “Pride” award.
High school nurse/medical terminology teacher Hillary Harris was recognized for her role in securing a $1,200 grant to give CPR training. Gilmer was reportedly one of only four schools in the state to receive such a grant
Also honored were teachers Traci Cole and Criss Bartley, who participated in the Texas Regional Collaborative for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching. Ms. Bartley said, “We’re obligated to mentor other teachers.”