Thursday, March 29, 2012

Grandview C-4 Proposes $700,000+ in Cuts

By Paul Thompson
Grandview C-4 is proposing to cut seven positions to create what the district's finance director, Ann Marie Cook, called a "neutral budget" for 2012-13. The district also refinanced their bonds to save money.

Grandview school administrators revealed a spreadsheet during their regular board meeting on March 15 that showed how the district could save $706,500 for next year.

The plan calls for two elementary programming certified positions to be eliminated, as well as for five positions to remain unfilled. The program hit hardest by this round of cuts looks to be Special Education, which is tentatively scheduled to leave three positions unfilled for the upcoming year, representing savings of some $303,500. The district is hoping to offset these losses by adding $20,000 in additional days for SPED support staff.

Although the cuts are unfortunate, the administration pointed out that the current budget deficit pales in comparison to previous years. Deeper cuts would have been proposed, had the district not had a $1.145 million surplus from this year's budget that was rolled over for next year.

"We have cut millions and millions of dollars over the past few years," said Superintendent Ralph Teran. "We think this is very, very doable."

The final budget number is still in limbo because of hold-ups at the state level, although Teran indicated that he expected the district to see a 2% reduction in state funds. For now though, the district is preparing for all scenarios, including the possibility of funding remaining flat. Other scenarios being prepared for include 5% and 8% reductions in state funding for the 2012-2013 school year.

"It's kind of a stalled weather front with anything happening with school finance at the legislative level," said Teran about the legislative gridlock. "They want to attach things to it, so nothing is moving."

Elsewhere, the C-4 district is being proactive in their attempts to save taxpayers as much money as possible. Per this notion, the district announced a bond refunding plan at the regular March 15 session that will save an estimated $1.36 million.

The plan reduces the average interest rate on three bonds (Series 2007A, Series 2008A, and Series 2009) from 3.55% to approximately 1.08%. It also allows the district to reduce the final maturity of the bonds.

"We'll issue new bonds, and the proceeds from those bonds will pay off the old bonds," explained Cook. "The proceeds will save our taxpayers $1,363,132 million dollars. It also reduces the final maturity by four years."

The refinancing is likely to cost about $126,000, but the district will still net over $1.2 million from the refunding of those bond issues.

The plan has the dual benefit of allowing the district greater flexibility in their ability to request future bond issues. Now that the refunding plan has been approved, the district is in line to have the bond capacity to request about $42 million by 2015.

While Cook stated clearly that the district has no intention of requesting a $42 million bond anytime soon, she did point out that the initial savings, combined with future flexibility, made the bond refunding a no-brainer.

"We have an opportunity to save the district taxpayers that much money; and it provides flexibility for our upcoming needs in the years to come," said Cook.

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