District asking for another bond

By Emily Bialkowski

Caledonia Argus

 

The Caledonia School District will once again call upon voters to approve a $495,000 one-day bond to pay for building maintenance and technology needs. The district successfully held special elections on this same matter in 2011 and 2012.

The unique financing tool of the one-day bond is not available to all districts but offers Caledonia a way to address pressing issues, such as the deteriorating elementary school roof.

 

How it works

Caledonia holds a capital loan on the middle school/high school building, which was constructed in 2002. This type of loan requires the district to tax at the “maximum effort” based on property values.

A one-day bond, if approved, allows the district to withhold $495,000 of payment on that loan and use it for things like building maintenance. Property owners are getting taxed to the max to pay off the debt already. That leaves the district no room for maintenance and technology needs without the one-day bond financing tool.

 

Board thoughts

The decision to ask voters for another one-day bond was not taken lightly.

Board Member Kelley McGraw wanted to know how many more of these bond requests are necessary.

“It’s really hard to have a crystal ball, but I would say a couple more,” Superintendent Ben Barton said, adding that maintenance needs would otherwise have to be covered by the general fund, which is dangerously low.

“I understand the need – my fear is that we need to come to the realization that our operating referendum needs to be raised or we have to cut. You can only run to the same well so many times. If the county builds their maintenance shop, that’s the same well we’re dipping out of,” McGraw said, adding that an operating referendum needs considerable thought in the years to come.

Part of the district’s crunch has come from declining enrollment, which Barton believes will level off in the next few years.

“Every one of us could probably argue every side of this issue; it’s not easy,” Barton said.

The vote to move forward with a one-day bond was 6-1, McGraw abstaining.

 

Other business

The board’s agenda was full, with several other matters receiving attention.

• Athletic ticket prices for football games will go up to $6 for adults and $4 for students. Other athletic events will remain $5 for adults and $3 for students. The change in football pricing aligns Caledonia with its conference partners.

Board Member Spencer Yohe asked if the board has ever considered a senior discount. The suggestion gained some momentum when a board member proposed a senior citizen day and/or veterans day. The suggestion was noted and will be reviewed by the activities committee.

A senior discount does already exist for the season pass.

• The board accepted a 10 cent second lunch and adult lunch price increase, bringing the cost to $3.35 per meal.

• Brad Harguth received permission to take four FFA students – all juniors – to the All American Dairy Show in Harrisburg, Pa., Sept. 7 through Sept. 10. The students are looking to raise $3,000 to help cover the cost of trip.

• The board formally adopted district goals and core values after months of work by a steering committee comprised of a variety of residents, teachers and business people.

• Barton reported that 41 kindergartners will be entering the district this school year.

• The board approved an application process for students interested in becoming a representative on the school board. Two students will be allowed to participate and will become eligible for a scholarship if selected.

“I think it will be a good opportunity for our students and for us to learn,” Board Member Amanda King said.

 

Closed session

The board voted to go into a closed session to discuss negotiation strategy. No decisions were made upon returning into open session.

The next regular School Board meeting has been set for 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23.

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