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School board preps bond campaign

Collin Smith

— The Moffat County School District’s march toward a Nov. 9 bond election has one stop to make before then, Sept. 7.

The bond question is due to the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder’s Office then, and the School Board met Thursday to look at the language and the fine print.

Under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Right, all bond questions must include the amount of the actual bond, the total amount the taxpayers will be required to pay after 20 years of interest and the highest possible interest rate taxpayers can be asked to pay.

The board looked at a proposal with the maximum interest rate set at 6.5 percent. For the $29.5 million bond, taxpayers would pay up to $54 million, a rate of up to $2.7 million annually.

Financial Director Mark Rydberg said the school district would actually lower the maximum interest rate to 6.25 percent. That would bring the total maximum cost for taxpayers down to about $48 million to $49 million.

“The total cost is like a mortgage on a home,” Rydberg said. “If you buy a $200,000 home with a 20-year mortgage, you end up paying closer to $400,000, but you don’t say you bought a $400,000 house.”

The interest rate today is around 4.8 percent, said Dan O’Connell, of RBC Dain Raucher, the firm contracted to write the bond question. The interest rate by the time the bond would go into effect would likely be lower than the maximum written in the bond question.

“You’re not issuing the bonds until after the November election, and the interest rate could fluctuate a lot between now and then,” O’Connell said. “The rate is what it is to have some padding there, because if the rate goes any higher (than what’s stipulated in the bond question), you cannot issue all the bonds.”

The bond question itself is mostly language required by TABOR with the exception of five bullet points outlining the school district’s goals for the money.

Those include repairing and updating school facilities, increasing security, upgrading technology, building new middle school classrooms and renovating Craig Intermediate School and the three elementary schools to include preschool classrooms.

The board also viewed Colorado Student Assessment Program, test scores and Adequate Yearly Progress results.

School District Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan led the presentation with Superintendent Pete Bergman.

They reported to the board that although the district-wide test scores had faltered from last year, they “were trending up” since 2002.

Moffat County School District had the highest percentage of improvement among 19 Northwest Colorado school districts in students making proficiency across all areas on CSAP exams.

“In full disclosure, we might have had lower scores (at that time) than the other school districts and so had more room to grow, but we did grow,” Sheridan said.

The school district also reached all but one of their AYP goals, Sheridan said, which was improving reading test scores for kids with disabilities at the elementary school level.


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