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home : news : news Friday, April 29, 2016

4/20/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
NE board approves budget, discusses construction project

By Jeremy Huss
Staff writer

The Northeast Community School Board April 9 approved the budget for the 2013/14 school year following a public hearing at which no input was received.

The budget sets a tax levy of $14.79733, a decrease of approximately 13 cents from the current year.

It also includes an income surtax of 11 percent.

The overall tax rate is based on the legislature authorizing 4 percent allowable growth for schools. The levy will fall if the legislature sets a lower allowable growth figure, and it also could decrease based on the results of bids for the upcoming sale of bonds for the district's gym and science classroom addition.

The levy will generate $2.5 million in property taxes. The budget gives the district a maximum spending authority of $18.4 million, including $7.5 million for the facility addition.

District prepares for construction project

The board approved a resolution authorizing a "pre-levy" of $137,502 for the first payment on the bonds for the facility addition project in fiscal year 2014.

The resolution will allow the county auditor to levy the needed taxes without knowing the results of the bond sale, which will occur later.

The funding has been built into the district's budget, and the resolution will not impact the tax levy, superintendent Jim Cox stated.

The bond sale will be held at 9 a.m., May 22, Cox reported.

The district will use an electronic bidding platform as recommended by financial advisor Piper Jaffray, but bidders also may submit sealed or faxed bids. The board formally will approve use of the electronic bidding system at a May 8 meeting.

Assuming the district accepts a bid for the sale of the bonds, the district will receive the sale proceeds June 18, Cox stated.

The school board approved a financial services agreement with Piper Jaffray to handle legal resolutions related to the bidding process, such as a completing filings for federal securities regulations.

The cost will be .25 percent of the amount of securities sold plus expenses, according to business manager Kristy Weiss.

Cox said the agreement will cost the district $250,000-$300,000.

The board also approved an agreement with Shoemaker and Haaland Surveyors for $21,280 to conduct an aerial survey with elevations for use in the facility addition project.

The board approved a separate agreement with Hinkle Engineering of Clinton for $2,300 to complete a boundary of the Northeast campus. Cox said the survey information will be used to enclose the Northeast campus with a security fence.

Discussion was held on the hiring of a construction manager for the facility project.

Cox said Modern Builders has reorganized its construction management department since it completed work on Northeast's auditorium addition.

School board members and administrators had concerns about some aspects of construction management during the auditorium project. Cox said the re-organization may have addressed those problems and asked the board to consider awarding the contract to Modern Builders.

"I think we can do it cheaper with them than another company, but we can interview and bid if you want," he said.

Cox said Modern Builders has orally agreed to a contract for 4 percent of the project cost rather than the usual cost of 5-5.5 percent.

If the district is going to interview other construction mangers, it needs to start that process soon, Cox stated.

Board member Rich Krogmann was open to the idea but said any contract would have to include language addressing Northeast's concerns.

"The problem last time was in budgeting and accounting, which left a sour taste," Cox said.

Krogmann said he would want to have a face-to-face meeting to hear what has changed at the firm and why before agreeing to contract with them.

Cox agreed to arrange the meeting.

Iowa law allows public entities to award contracts for professional services, such as arhitectural design and construction management, without utilizing a competitive bidding process.

High school to expand 1:1 computer program

Assistant high school principal Phil Bormann reported administrators have agreed to expand Northeast's 1:1 laptop program to all high school students.

The program, which is in its first year, currently is limited to juniors and seniors.

Bormann said the district has 160 laptops in place now and will be purchasing an additional 255 computers to expand the program to all students in grades 9-12.

Cox said money has been set aside for the computer purchase, and meetings with parents about the 1:1 program will be held in the fall.

Other business

In other business, the board:

•Administered the oath of office to Kristy Weiss as board secretary.

•Accepted the resignation of alternative school teacher Melissa Schmidt.

•Approved the employment of Megan Ratkiewicz as a family and consumer science teacher for the 2013/14 school year.

•Approved a resolution to allow an early start date for the 2013/14 school year and listing benefits of the early start. The resolution is intended to head off an effort by opponents of the late start to challenge the department of education's process of issuing waivers to allow an early start date.

•Approved disciplinary action against a student following a closed session to discuss a possible expulsion.

•It was noted the board will be meeting twice per month while preparations are underway for the facility addition project.

Meetings currently are scheduled for Tuesday, April 23 and Wednesday, May 8.

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