Dexter R-XI board approves added projects; Bishop resigns from board

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

DEXTER ­— Additional improvements will be made to a drive at Southwest Elementary, along with facilities within the Dexter School District for field events at Charles Bland Stadium.

The project alternatives were approved Monday by the Board of Education as part of an approximately $19.7 million improvement plan. The board also voted on the sale of general obligation bonds and lease certificates of participation that will help pay for the work, as well as the resignation of board president Kevin Bishop.

The three project alternatives approved Monday are estimated to cost just under $159,000.

“We’re putting a lot into having a real, real nice facility. To me, it’s a small thing for having a complete, state-of-the-art facility,” said Superintendent C.A. Counts, of the work at the district’s stadium to create separate triple and long jump runways and pits, a pole vault runway, and add a javelin runway.

Voters approved a $15 million bond issue April 2 that already includes work at the stadium to resolve drainage issues and improve the track, repair of roofs district wide, construction of new classroom space and add a preschool program. The remainder of project costs will come from a low-interest lease-purchase loan repaid through district reserves.

The board agreed April 4 to add more projects, such as work to resolve a high school moisture issue and roofing for a portion of the vo-tech.

Of four items taken up Monday, the district can handle the pole vault and high jump padding itself, said Counts, who recommended adding three items to the construction list. This includes the Southwest Elementary drive, triple and long jump work and javelin runway.

These additions will help the district when it hosts other schools for sporting events, board members said. Most of the schools it competes against are north of Dexter, Counts added, and it can be difficult to get other districts to travel for meets. He believes upgraded facilities could provide an added incentive to locate events in Dexter.

Motions related to a portion of the funding were approved Monday, for the sale of $5.5 million in general obligation bonds and $4.05 million in lease certificates of participation. The board approved the sale of these to its municipal bond underwriter, L.J. Hart & Company of St. Louis.

The first opportunity to invest was provided to local financial institutions, according to a press release from Larry Hart, CEO of the underwriter.

Local banks have agreed to purchase the following bond amounts: Bank of Advance, $1 million; First MIdwest Bank of Dexter, $1 million; First Missouri Bank of SEMO, $500,000; and First State Community Bank, $250,000. Certificates will be acquired in the following amounts: Bank of Advance, $590,000; First Midwest of Dexter, $450,000; Southern Bank, $825,000; and Bank of New Madrid, $630,000.

Strong local support was very helpful to the success of the financing, Hart said.

Local banks will produce 50 percent of the general obligation bond issue and almost 62 percent of the lease certificates, Counts said.

Bonds will mature in 2029, with an interest rate of 5 percent and a reoffered yield of 2.55%. Bonds are being sold at a premium to the March 1, 2024 call date, which produces additional funds for the project in the amount of more than $600,000, Hart said.

Certificates will mature between 2020 and 2034, with reoffered yields of 2%-3.4%.

Bonds carry a rating of “AA+” from S&P Global and the certificates an “A” rating with an “A+” issuer rating.

Money from both efforts is expected to be deposited April 30 in the district’s construction account.

In other business, the board accepted the resignation of board president Kevin Bishop, effective May 31. Bishop has accepted another job and will be moving. He has been with the board eight years.

His current term ends in April 2020, Counts said. The board will advertise for letters of interest in the position and appoint someone to fill the remainder of the term, he said.

Board members also approved the purchase of Chromebooks for the high school as part of the 1-to-1 effort and discussed the advantages of adding a second school resource officer in the next school year.

The board will meet next at 6 p.m. May 21.

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