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Please understand that I'm not placing any blame at the feet of the school board, either. Last time I checked, citizens can only vote one time on a bond issue, and that thing narrowly passed the district-wide vote. The board can only work with the mills and state/federal funding that is available to them.
Negative amortization is the most poisonous type of debt load, and if the figures provided by the board are accurate, this is exactly the situation the district faces until 9/1/12, when 75K is finally knocked off the principal balance of the Series 2008 Bond. So, after state subsidy, the district pays over $2.3 million in interest before a penny is knocked off the original par amounts of the issues.
I personally believe that the bond issue payments are straight at the heart of this matter. 614K would bus some students, buy some books, and cover the salaries of a few teachers, I suspect. I fully understand that the bond issues cannot be re-allocated for any purposes other than those specified in the original vote. I also know that the debt load the district is to begin paying off in earnest this year is the fundamental reason (in concert with a state funding crisis) the district must now look to cut corners elsewhere. It's unfortunate, but this is why we vote on matters of such importance. Decisions were made, right or wrong, in a democratic manner.
I'm making no claim that the citizens of #348 should have seen the housing bubble burst, either. There was no way to know exactly when that unfortunate spree of events was set to occur. What was set in stone at the time of that vote was that the district would be obligated to pay these bond issues on a very specific schedule, regardless of the future district valuations.
I would just like to see the hard evidence (a stack of bills in a file cabinet, maybe) that could lead to a rational decision about the future of the district's schools. Closing a pair of schools that traditionally perform pretty well doesn't seem like a particularly good option, at first glance. I know virtually all of the individuals cited in the above article, and I don't have any interest in shunning them...I don't even know for sure where I stand on this issue, except that I hope the decisions made about these schools' futures are based on hard analysis rather than emotion.
June 14, 2010 at 8:18 p.m.
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What am I missing here? We want to close the rural elementary schools to service the debt on the unaffordable new facilities--is that right? Where does one find facility-by-facility breakdowns of actual costs related to running these buildings? I've made attempts to find this information online, but everything is bunched together in General Fund accounts.
Now, I'm not necessarily of the opinion that the facilities didn't need some sort of an upgrade--but isn't this whole business the direct result of the $22.9 million General Obligation Bonds that were passed a couple years ago? And isn't there a presupposition that the Assessed Valuation is going up 190% over the next 20 years? That's a lot of debt service, but I guess you get what you pay for in the future...
It appears to me that the $614K in debt service coming due 9/1/10 is by far the smallest debt load the district will need to carry over the next 20 years...Aren't we going to run out of schools to close in a couple of years?
June 13, 2010 at 9:04 a.m.
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