Lindbergh board moving ahead on Proposition R bonds, projects

Moody’s reports Lindbergh maintains state-high bond rating


The Lindbergh Board of Education moved last week to utilize funds from a $32 million bond issue by authorizing the sale of those bonds and approving the scope of specific construction projects.

Board members voted unanimously Feb. 13 to approve a resolution authorizing the sale of bonds from Proposition R, a no-tax-rate-increase $32 million bond issue approved in November by 69.57 percent of district voters.

The bond sale is scheduled to take place on the afternoon of March 13 with the Board of Education voting on the approval of that sale at that night’s meeting.

Under Prop R, the district’s debt-service tax rate will remain unchanged at 38 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, but it will be extended for a six-year period — until 2026.

But work will begin this summer on projects funded directly from Prop R.

The Board of Education last week also unanimously approved schematic designs for the refurbishing of Sappington and Kennerly elementary schools.

Board members also approved the scope of work for roof replacement at Crestwood Elementary School, Long Elementary and a portion of Lindbergh High School. That work is scheduled to begin this summer. Because of the necessary amount of roof replacement districtwide, the replacement work will occur in three phases during the summers of 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Work also is slated for this summer on the installation of new, districtwide fire-alarm systems — a project that also had its scope of work unanimously approved last week by board members.

Lindbergh officials have approved a traditional design at Sappington Elementary School that is similar to the original design of that school that was completed in 1928.

Board members also decided last week to retain much of the school’s traditional feel by unanimously approving a $484,594 expense from district reserves to retain Sappington Elementary School’s 1955 building for instructional use and long-term planning. District officials have said that keeping the 1955 building for classroom space would be cheaper than a newly constructed building at Sappington.

As for Kennerly Elementary School, school board members also unanimously approved the schematic design for its renovation, which will feature columns supporting its front entrance and upper floor and also a curved glass hallway.

Although Director of Facilities Karl Guyer said last week that no construction estimates for bids on these projects are yet available, district officials had previously estimated project costs for both Sappington and Kennerly elementary schools.

The partial building replacement at Sappington Elementary was estimated last year as an $8.55 million project, and the minor building addition at Kennerly Elementary was estimated to cost $2.65 million.

Bids for both projects are expected to be requested in two rounds — one for foundation work and another for construction — during the spring.

“Basically, it looks like we’ll have some Prop R stuff, all things working out properly, we’ll have some bids to be awarded in April, May, June and in August at those respective board meetings,” Guyer said.

Guyer has said that the district primarily will focus on 2007, 2008 and 2009 to complete the repair projects through Prop R that it has planned for various schools throughout the district.

Besides the Sappington and Kennerly projects, roof replacement and new fire-alarm systems, Prop R will fund a variety of other projects in schools throughout the district. Two such future projects include classroom doors that lock from the inside for elementary schools and security cameras in most buildings.

The district also learned last week that it once again is among a handful of school districts in the state to qualify for an Aa2 bond rating. Moody’s Investors Service issued the Aa2 rating, which is the highest bond rating that has been given to any Missouri school district.

In a district release, Moody’s reported: “The Aa2 rating is based on the district’s sound financial operations characterized by healthy reserves, substantial tax base and minimal debt.”

The report also stated, “Moody’s expects that the district’s financial position should remain sound in the near term despite budgeted draws on reserves due to the presence of healthy operating fund balances and prudent fiscal management.”

Lindbergh Assistant Superintendent for Finance/Chief Financial Officer Pat Lanane said last week that he is appreciative of Moody’s for the retention of the district’s Aa2 rating and that it would help the district successfully sell bonds from Prop R.

“You cannot influence them (Moody’s) in any way, shape or form,” Lanane said. “They are absolutely objective. They have analysts who are assigned to this area at all times. They get all the local newspapers. I think it’s actually sort of an interesting job following all of this. All these municipalities all around also have bond ratings. So all these groups are in the market from time to time.

“And these analysts closely watch what those are here. And this is what they’re saying that they found to be very favorable in terms of how the district operates. So this is really quite a compliment to the Board of Education and it does give us a little bit of direction in terms of our future discussions about reserves and what a good level and an acceptable level is …

“One last comment on the bond rating and why that is so important is that will allow us to have a lower interest rate that we pay bond holders. That means taxpayers pay less money to fund this. And at the same time, the kids get facilities that are up to date and well-maintained. It’s a win-win if you’re able to maintain a high bond rating.”

The Board of Education last week also proceeded with its plans to search for a new superintendent after current Superintendent Jim Sandfort retires at the end of the 2007-2008 school year.

Board members unanimously approved a contract with Ray and Associates Inc. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to assist in the search for a new superintendent. The final cost for the search firm’s services is $15,000, with a maximum of $6,000 for reimbursed expenses.

Ray and Associates was selected from four consulting firms that were interviewed in December by the Board of Education. The board voted last month to select Ray and Associates contingent on the successful negotiation of a contract.

Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Services Rick Francis stated in a district news release, “Ray and Associates will recruit on a statewide, regional and national basis. They will tailor the search process to meet our district’s needs.”