Bond question from Boonville School district will appear on April ballot

Charles Dunlap
Boonville Daily News

Will a no-tax-increase bond question for $4 million appear on the April ballot? That is something the Boonville school board had to discuss Wednesday. 

"We reviewed our budget projections, current budget and historical budgets. Through those conversations (with L.J. Hart and Co.), we were looking at our current needs in the district and where our most emergent needs are," Superintendent Sarah Marriott said. 

The biggest concern for the district is doing another lease-purchase agreement, which could not be sustained by the district based on the current budget and projections.

"Our best scenario is to pay off our current lease-purchases in 2023 when they are (renewable) and absorb those through the potential April 2021 bond, if it does pass," Marriott said. 

Interest savings by the district could allow for the bond question to appear on the April ballot, L.J. Hart Vice President Brad Wegeman said. 

The bond could include prepayments on existing district lease-financing. 

"The 2018 lease has $800,000 outstanding and the 2020 lease has $355,000," Wegeman said, adding the district could set that aside to prepay the bonds that renew in 2023. "You could use about $3.3 million on projects right now and then hold back about $1.1 million to pay off the lease-financings."

The filing deadline to get the question on the April ballot is Tuesday. The prepayment of the the other lease financing would be done as funds are available, so lease-financing prepayments may be less than the total $1.1 million.

The district still has considerable emergent projects that it needs to tackle and the $4 million bond issue could be a means to address them, board member Lisa Leathers said. 

"The question comes down to what is the best use of that money, were the voters to approve that," she said. 

For Marriott, the prepayment is a priority and the Hannah Cole Primary HVAC system repairs. After that is addressed, remaining proceeds would go toward the David Barton Elementary roof and a boiler at Laura Speed Elliott Middle School.

The board voted to move forward with the ballot measure. 

In other business

The Boonville board of education received an update Wednesday from Boonville City Manager Kate Fjell regarding the soccer complex. Budget goals were reached despite the COVID-19 pandemic, she said. 

The board is considering outsourcing some custodial services due to a lack of staff. There is the potential for further staffing shortages in the next few years as district custodians retire. The board approved seeking bids for outsourced custodial services only for vacant positions. 

The first reading of the district's strategic plan was held. The plan aligns with the sixth version of the Missouri Schools Improvement Plan. The board will have to develop a self-evaluation tool as part of the plan. A concise priorities list will be available to the public, while the complete plan also will be on the district website.