Fremont Board of Education members passed a resolution to pursue refinancing of bonds issued in 2010 in a move anticipated to save the district $1.6 million over the life of the bonds.
The resolution passed during the board’s Monday night meeting.
During the last several months, Fremont Public Schools has been working with D.A. Davidson, an investment management company, to evaluate the potential savings of refinancing the bonds to replace the Limited Tax Build America Bonds.
Since the 30-year bonds were issued, interest rates have declined, allowing the district to save money in interest costs by paying off the 2010 bonds and issuing newer bonds at a lower interest rate.
“The district continually monitors the bond market and seeks opportunities to refinance and realize savings,” said Brad Dahl, associate superintendent in a prepared statement.
FPS Superintendent Mark Shepard said the issuance mirrors a refunding the district took in 2017 with a first series of Build America Bonds, saving taxpayers $1.1 million over the repayment schedule.
At the meeting, school board members also voted to approve the costs of providing labor and materials to irrigate soccer fields in the Johnson Park subdivision. The nine-acre parcel of ground is situated at the corner of Johnson Road and Military Avenue.
The district had grass seed planted on the ground last spring.
Members reviewed a diagram of concept for development of the site.
Shepard provided board members with background on the project.
He reminded board members of a change in the law years ago, requiring public entities not using publicly owned ground for public purposes – like a school district not using land for school purposes—to pay taxes on that land.
The district was receiving cash rent on the 9-acre parcel, which was being used for farming. Given that and the taxes paid, the district was neither losing nor making money on it.
But as property valuations continued to increase, school officials realized the district would lose money at some point.
At about the same time, the district began seeing an increase in the cost of using the Christensen Soccer Complex and challenges for students to get to the facility on the opposite side of town.
Shepard said the district looked at part of the 9-acre parcel that Archbishop Bergan Catholic Schools uses for fall football practices.
FPS officials also met with the City of Fremont, the Fremont Parks and Recreation Department and Midland University to talk about future fields that could be used by the district, Midland and for other soccer purposes.
The biggest concern involved irrigating the property.
Shepard said there is an onsite well that can be used to supply water for an underground sprinkler system. The district worked with the Department of Environmental Quality.
Webster Well Services Inc., of Morse Bluff helped the district complete the necessary DEQ paperwork. The well was registered and water tested. The City of Fremont approved well usage.
Board members approved prices: Webster Well, not to exceed $9,674.78 for work which includes installing a pump; Fremont Electric, $19,200, which includes labor, materials and electrical permit; Hurst Lawn and Sprinkling, $28,000, which includes in-the-ground piping, control units and other equipment required to water the property.
Shepard said city will need to place a transformer in the area. Depending on the transformer’s location, it could greatly reduce the cost of running cable to the well site, and the Fremont Electric proposed price should decrease.
The Hurst proposal will go down, because the initial proposal was for irrigation that extended farther on the parcel. Shepard talked about an area on the parcel where a parking lot could be placed.
In other business, the board approved the purchase of 375 steel-frame desks for not more than $51,645.00; and 375 hard plastic, stackable chairs for not more than $25,252.00.
The desks, which also have a metal book box and hard plastic top, sell for $137.72 each. The chairs sell for $67.34 each.
These desks and chairs will replace those for students in fourth grade.
Dahl said many of the mechanisms in the old lift-the-lid-type desks no longer work.
“It’s time to move forward and have desks that operate the way they’re intended to operate and are safe for kids and work well,” he said.
Dahl added that some other different type of desks will still be used.
He pointed out that the pricing is competitive and the school system is getting the best bid possible based on 2019 standards. The cost includes shipping.
Regular board of education meetings start at 6:30 p.m., the second Monday of each month in the board room of the Main Street building, 130 E. Ninth St.