MARSHALL - The Marshall School Board was given a lot to think about at the work session meeting Monday, with three presentations and five discussion items at the top of the docket.
Ehlers representative Jodie Zosbaugh walked the board through potential refunding options of $37,000 worth of building bonds, expressing that the best time to refund the bonds would be between now and December of 2013.
"You wouldn't want to wait any longer than that, unless you don't think rates will go up," she said. "Rates are at an historical low right now."
The first option, advance refunding, which, in Minnesota, is commonly referred to as a "crossover" refunding, is more complex because of federal and state restrictions. There are also extra costs, including fees for an escrow account, escrow agent and CPA. But on the flip side, Zosbaugh said, the option gives districts the opportunity to refund bonds more than 90 days before the call date.
Advance refunding is also beneficial if there is a belief that the rates will increase, as low rates and saving can be locked in.
With the proposed crossover refunding, Ehlers estimated that MPS could save nearly $2.5 million.
"This amount includes the loss of $639,259 in negative arbitrage," Zosbaugh said. "It's a pretty attractive deal to a lot of school boards. But each has to come to their own conclusion."
The second option is current refunding, which is the most simple form. It has the lowest issuance costs, but cannot be closed on until 90 days before the call date of Feb. 1, 2014.
Board member Karen VanKeulen asked the financial representative to clarify where the refunding would go.
"It's not to be used for the general fund, right?" she said.
Zosbaugh explained that it was all debt service money.
"It goes right back to the taxpayer," she said.
Board chair Jeff Chapman thought the crossover sounded like a good plan.
"I think we should go for it if we can save almost $2.5 million," he said. "It seems pretty good."
MPS Superintendent Klint Willert said he'd pull together a subcommittee of board members to proceed with options, which also included the possibility of doing nothing, adopting a resolution authorizing sale of refunding bonds or bringing forward a parameters resolution.
On a sad note, Willert reported the death of bus driver, Steve Warme.
Letters were sent home with students Monday informing parents of the loss. Administrators also had a meeting with students earlier in the day, Willert said.
Marshall Middle School teacher Sandy Carpenter and Principal Mary Kay Thomas spoke about the after school program and Project Success at MMS.
"We have around 60 kids to upwards of 200 kids each night from 3-5 p.m.," Thomas said. "There's great fluctuation in that."
About 61 students are in the homework zone, and another 62 or so from Project Success, Carpenter said, join the group.
"We have activity time from 4-5 p.m.," she said. "We do a variety of things, like they might be in Zumba or Team Tiger, which is skill building."
On Wednesdays, Carpenter said the fifth- through eighth-grade students are blended to create a "family day."
Any student can register for the highly-structured programs.
Kevin Dubs informed the board about Horace Mann, which sponsors donorschoose.org, a non-profit organization where people can directly donate funds towards school projects.
In 10 years time, 179,133 projects have been funded, with $73 million spent on books, art supplies, science equipment and other resources for students.
The board approved Kristie Andres as a Community Services board member.
The board approved aid anticipation certificates in the amount of $2.5 million.