District considers option on bond refunding

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

NEW MADRID - The New Madrid County R-1 School District's tax rate is not expected to change.

At the District's tax rate meeting, which is set for 9 a.m. Thursday at the Board office on the New Madrid County Central High School campus, school officials will propose the same rate as last of $3.69 per $100 valuation.

According to Dr. Cynthia Sharp Amick, superintendent, the District's assessed valuation has risen slightly.

"We felt we would be OK to leave it as the same rate as last year," Amick said. "We thought it would help citizens out by not increasing tax rate."

During their August meeting, the New Madrid County R-1 School Board accepted a proposal from L.J. Hart and Associates to provide underwriting services to the District for purposes of refunding the Series 2010 General Obligation Refunding Bonds and establishing an escrow account to advance refund the Series 2006 General Obligation Bonds.

Amick pointed out the District has worked with the underwriting service since 1986. Over that time period, she estimated the company has saved the District over $1.6 million.

Through the refunding, the company intends to obtain a new interest rate of 2 percent. The interest currently is 3.4 percent.

The change would reduce bond maturity by one year, she said.

"This will keep our balances healthier. We will pay less interest and save over $500,000 in a 10-year period if we do refinancing," Amick added.

A final decision will be made at the September board meeting.

Also during the August meeting, the Board accepted the Spring 2015 MAP and EOC results.

The R-1 District, like districts across the state, found the students scores were lower last year for the Missouri Assessment Program's test, the Superintendent said.

She pointed out this was the first time the test was used on all the grade levels based on the new learning standards.

"The new standards raised the expectations for learning in Missouri," Amick said. "It was a much more rigorous test."

Also it was new testing format, she continued. For the first time students took the test online.

Amick also noted the tests are changing again. "Right now they are working on the standards and we will be getting those this fall," Amick said. "We don't know what they will be."

According to Amick, the District instituted a new, more rigorous math curriculum last year. While the district's math scores were low on the MAP tests, she said teachers have already seen improvements with their students' math knowledge this year.

"We attribute this to having more rigorous math last year. We are hoping with each year we will see stronger math students," she said. "That is the whole intent of the curriculum -- to provide more rigor for higher expectations."

The results of the End of Course testing for the high school students were "very good. We were up in English 1 significantly; we were up in Algebra 1, biology, American government and history," Amick said. "We held our own in the other subjects."

In other action by the Board:

New Madrid County R-1 Teacher Evaluation Program: Approval was given for the New Madrid County R-1 Teacher Evaluation Program Policy and Procedures Manual.

Amick explained the state has established a criteria for school districts to use for evaluations. The R-1 District is basing its new program on a the Hazelwood School District's training model, which has already received state approval.

On Sept. 18 there will be a professional development program with teachers to explain the new system and the expectations and provide handbooks, according to Amick.

She described the program as designed to create a positive classroom environment, encourage effectiveness in the classroom and allow collaborative learning between students and teachers and between teachers and other teachers.

New Madrid County R-1 Principal Evaluation Program: Also approved was the Principal Evaluation Program which will provide a professional growth plan and incorporate administrative improvements.

Board Policy Revision: The GCKA-R Extracurricular Activities policy which deals with pay for coaches conducting summer camps was approved.

Playground funding: Following discussion of Tricia McClarty's request to seek donations from local businesses for all-inclusive elementary playgrounds at the elementary sites, the Board agreed to direct any community donations to the New Madrid County R-1 School District Education Foundation Inc., which is a 501C 3 organization. Donations may be mailed to: New Madrid County R-1 Education Foundation Inc. 310 U.S. Highway 61, New Madrid, MO 63869.

Also the Board discussed the possibility of writing a grant for assistance for the all-inclusive playground equipment. It was agreed Cindi Jones will work with McClarty on a grant proposal.

Transportation: John Garner and his staff were commended for two recognitions recently received: the "Total Fleet Excellence Award" from the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the "Exemplary School Bus Maintenance Award" from Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Garner reported the R-1 buses logged 413,299 miles overall last year which includes 346,358 miles of regular route miles, handicap runs and busing preschool students. There were 66,941 miles run for sports, band and field trips, he said.

Facility Plan: Garner and Kolwyck informed the Board of the progress to develop a long-range facility plan. The plan encompasses major improvements administrators would like to see at the buildings in the District.

Sportable Scoreboards: Blake Munger from Sportable Scoreboards reported he is waiting on one business to confirm a contract and will be ready to install the first video board in the gymnasium of NMCC. Ten businesses are investing $1,000 each to cover the $10,000 costs of installing the video board.

Upcoming events:

* Homecoming Parade is at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at New Madrid

* Pep Rally, Tail Gate Party and Homecoming game versus Charleston is Sept.18

* The Homecoming Dance is from 8-10 p.m. Sept. 1