Starkville schools handle bond business

September 9, 2009 9:50:00 AM



STARKVILLE - School officials handled two more bond issue details Tuesday night in a meeting where they also discussed preliminary data that shows the school district met the state''s average yearly progress standards. 


The AYP data will be official Friday, said Beth Sewell, Starkville School District assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. 


All board members were present for the meeting. The first bond issue business was to authorize school board attorney Dolton McAlpin and the district''s bond attorney Jim Young to refinance an existing $1.44 million bond issue to take advantage of better interest rates. The board discussed this at their last meeting, and gave approval to proceed. 


"As of last week''s interest rates, this could save the district from $75,000 to $100,000," McAlpin said. 


The vote to proceed with this refinancing was unanimous on Keith Coble''s motion and Bill Week''s second. 


"I''m all in favor of saving money," Coble said. 


The next item was the board''s vote for the district to proceed with issuing the final $3 million in bond issue money. This amount was set aside to take advantage of the federal government''s 0 percent interest rate on stimulus money, but McAlpin said the district will probably have to sweeten the deal. 


"Banks aren''t wanting to buy 0 percent loans now because interest rates are going up," McAlpin said. 


He said Young said at least one other district offered a 1 percent bonus to make the bond issue more attractive to banks. On Pickett Wilson''s motion and Eddie Myles'' second, the board voted unanimously to pay up to 1.5 percent interest on what was supposed to be a 0 percent $3 million loan. 


"Our savings, if we do offer this, will be 2 percent to 3 percent," said Superintendent Judy Couey. 


The board also approved a pilot program called "The O''Nan Project for Change." This project, made available by Meagan O''Nan, will provide select seventh- and eighth-graders with guidance from a life coach for two years. 


"The life coach will help them figure out their purpose in life, their dreams and passions," O''Nan said. 


She said students who have this direction and goals in life can perform better in school, and she hopes that principals will select to participate in the program A students who are performing at C, D and F levels. 


"We want to create a new program to work in conjunction with existing programs," O''Nan said. 


The program will not cost the district any money, and O''Nan said it is being funded privately this first year. Her organization is pursuing grant opportunities to fund and expand the program in future years. 


She said the program''s success will be tracked through quantitative data such as grade point average and attendance, and also qualitative information gathered from a survey or questionnaire given to participating students. 


On Week''s motion and Myles'' second, the board unanimously voted to accept the pilot program at no cost to the district. 


The board handled several other mattes of mostly routine business before going into closed session to handle a student disciplinary issue. They will meet again at 6 p.m. Oct. 6 in the Greensboro Center.