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INDEPENDENCE – A public hearing was held by the Independence Community School District board of education at the administrative office March 30, 2020, for amending the 2019-2020 certified budget and the proposed 2020-2021 certified budget. Board members present were Eric Smith, Kim Hansen, Matt O’Loughlin, Jennifer Sornson; and Gina Trimble; Superintendent Russell Reiter; and Board Secretary Laura Morine. School district administrators attended electronically.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the public had been notified ahead of time to submit their questions in person rather than present them in public. As none were submitted, Hansen moved to adjourn the public hearing, seconded by Trimble. The motion carried 5-0, and the public hearing ended.

Special Meeting

Following the hearing, a special meeting of the Independence Community School Board was called to order.

The board unanimously approved the following:

  • Amended 2019-2020 certified budget
  • 2020-2021 certified budget
  • Budget guarantee for 2020-2021

Bond Refinancing

Next, the school board had a discussion with Matt Gillaspie, Piper Sandler & Co, remotely via Zoom regarding bond refinancing. The district’s general obligation and sales tax revenue bonds are callable this spring (2020). Gillaspie reviewed the refinancing options with the board and, with the current low interest rates available, the board felt it makes sense to refinance all the bonds.

The board had approved general obligation bond surplus levying last year and for this upcoming year, $500,000 and $665,000, respectively, and that has saved the district more than $428,000 so far. With the lower interest rates and increasing the annual payments, the general obligation bonds could be paid off earlier – and therefore saving the district another $300,000.

The discussion then moved on to sales tax bonds, including the option of borrowing additional principal to pay for a possible remodeling of East Elementary, adding on to West Elementary, and adding another gymnasium to the jr/sr high school building. These infrastructure projects address the critical space and modernization needs of those facilities.

The board has the maximum capacity to borrow $4,600,000 from the sales tax bonds; however, they are waiting to see what HSR Architecture has for preliminary drawings and cost per square foot to see what each project could cost before deciding how much to borrow.

The board will continue to work with Piper Sandler on bond refinancing.