August 19, 2009 9:42:00 AM
STARKVILLE - The Starkville School District accepted a 3.4 percent interest rate Tuesday on $8.6 million in bonds it is issuing to fund ongoing school construction across the district.
Four board members were present to accept the bid, which passed unanimously on Pickett Wilson''s motion and Keith Coble''s second. Bill Weeks was absent from the recessed meeting.
The rate, offered by Duncan-Williams Inc., is for $8.58 million in bonds authorized by the voters in the $26.5 million bond issue passed in 2007. District Comptroller Rob Logan said all the rate bids were very good. Of the five received, the rates ranged from a high of 3.9 percent to the low of 3.4 percent that the board accepted.
The board then voted to authorize the district to proceed with issuing the final $3 million in bond issue money. This separate bond is a 0 percent interest rate Qualified School Construction Bond made available through federal stimulus money.
They also told Logan to investigate whether the district can refinance about $1.5 million in Mississippi Adequate Education Program bonds the district has outstanding. Logan said it may be possible to get a better interest rate and lower the district''s annual repayment amount.
The district makes an annual MAEP bond payment of $200,000, and Logan said they may be able to lower that amount about $65,000 through refinancing at a better interest rate.
The board began the meeting by hearing from Clinton Graves, a Pleasant Acres homeowner who discussed possible implications to the high school of a zoning change. Plans are underway to develop a 5-acre piece of land between Pleasant Acres and the high school baseball field as a medium density neighborhood.
"This will allow him (the developer) to put as many as 39 houses in a little less than the 5-acre plot," Graves said.
He said not only will houses back up to the high school''s athletic facilities, but a road will be alongside the baseball field and all traffic will move on the already congested Yellowjacket Street. He said the land is currently zoned as R1, which allows up to four houses per acre.
"Pleasant Acres has no quarrel with him developing it as R1. We would like new neighbors, and it would leave plenty of room between Pleasant Acres and the high school," Graves said.
He urged the board to consider traffic patterns and proximity concerns for the high school as plans are being made to make this property a higher density development.
"I''m not against Mr. Brewer. I don''t want to hurt him," Graves said. "He''s a businessman trying to make a living."
Rather than crowding in 39 houses, Graves said he dreams of seeing that land retained for its natural beauty. He said it contains a wide variety of hardwood trees not found anywhere else nearby except for the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge. He said with community support, it could be used as a teaching arboretum for the high school and the area incorporated into a garden-like campus landscape.
The board took no action on his remarks.
They handled several other matters of mostly routine business, then heard an update on the district''s preparedness for the H1N1 flu virus. Superintendent Judy Couey reviewed precautions that are being taken. These include updated training for the custodial staff on how to clean surfaces and sanitizing gel dispensers placed throughout the schools in hallways and near bathrooms and cafeterias.
Couey said teachers and students are all being encouraged to stay home if they have flu-like symptoms. Schools will not be closed if a case of H1N1 occurs, but anyone with a fever of 100.5 or higher is told to stay home until the fever has been gone for 24 hours.