School board approves $10 million in bonds
The Fairfield school board unanimously approved a resolution Monday authorizing the school district to issue $10 million in general obligation bonds since voters approved the Fairfield High School bond issue by 84 percent of votes a week ago.
Monday’s resolution also allows for the annual levy to pay for the bonds throughout the 20 years of repayment. The bonds will be purchased in May or June.
“Thanks to Ralph and Linda Messerli and Greg and June Lowenberg for mobilizing citizens to help promote this bond issue,” said Superintendent Art Sathoff.
“And I want to thank the school board publicly for its hard work,” Sathoff said. “It’s been nearly two years of studying, planning and prioritizing [renovations for Fairfield High School].
“Obviously we had good community support.”
Board member Amy Miller agreed.
“Thanks to the community for support and understanding the importance of the educational needs at the high school,” she said.
FHS Principal Aaron Becker said staff and students alike are excited and energized about the renovations and changes coming to the building.
Budget approved, waiting on Legislature for allowable growth
The board also approved the district’s fiscal year 2014 annual budget, $41.5 million.
Details of income and expenditures are available on the district’s website fairfieldsfuture.org under departments, then business office, where there is an article about the 2014 proposed budget with a link at the bottom of the text to the spreadsheet with dollar figures.
District business manager Kim Sheets reported Monday the district’s finances are projected to end this fiscal year (June 30) with a cash balance, although expenses greater than the projected budget could be as much as $200,000.
“We are not over-budget now, but looking to the end of June, we might go over,” said Sheets.
Board member Jerry Nelson asked what contributed to the increase.
“We added more aides after school began, based on students’ needs and we provided skilled nursing care for a student, so hiring more personnel was the largest expenditure increase,” said Sheets.
Annual school district budgets are due to the state department of education Monday.
The state Legislature has not approved the allowable growth factor for fiscal year 2014 for schools, so Sathoff recommended the most conservative estimate levy rate of $14.74 per $1,000 valuation, in fiscal year 2014 needed by the district.
“This levy rate, the highest possible asking we’d need, assumes zero-percent allowable growth,” said Sathoff.
The Department of Management will amend the school’s budget to align with legislative action, the resolution noted.
“If we don’t have any allowable growth, we’ll be at 101 percent of our budget,” said Sheets. “It won’t provide more spending than last year, it’s a budget guarantee for districts with declining enrollment. This provides us with spending authority, not an actual amount we’ll spend.”
If the Legislature approves a 2 or 3 percent allowable growth factor, Fairfield’s levy rate will decrease.
In other financial news Sathoff, district auxiliary services director Fred McElwee and the board’s finance committee, recommended paying a settlement of $64,703 with Woodruff Construction and subcontractor Sam’s Well Drilling.
Fairfield Middle School’s $5.345 million HVAC project encountered unplanned expenses last summer in drilling well fields for the geothermal pipe loops.
The soil contained more clay than original testing had reported and a more expensive type of grout needed to be used in drilling the wells and additional wells had to be drilled.
Sam’s Well Drilling submitted change order requests for:
• $49,500 geoexchange bore field grout material
• $19,276 extension of header trench for geothermal field
• $63,454 lost productivity
Architect and engineering firm Shive Hattery, overseeing the HVAC project, and representatives from the contractor and subcontractor gave presentations to the school board last summer, explaining the problem, solutions and costs.
The issue has been in dispute among the school district, Shive Hattery and providers.
The school board finance committee met April 1 and came to a settlement agreement.
School board members serving on the finance committee and present April 1, included Jeremy Miller, Jerry Nelson and Jennifer Anderson. School district administrators McElwee, Sathoff and Sheets attended the same meeting, along with Nick Ford from Woodruff Construction, project contractor.
The consensus of the finance committee and administration was to propose a $67,703 settlement payment, which includes $49,500 for grout material and $15,203, the actual costs for the header extension, less markups. No offer was made regarding the lost productivity.
Ford contacted Sam’s Well Drilling and an agreement was reached.
Monday, the school board approved the settlement for $67,703, which represents a 1.63 percent in change orders on the project.
Sathoff said without the settlement, the issue would have moved to arbitration, and he was hoping to avoid attorney fees.
McElwee said Alliant Energy had issued $116,000 in rebates to the district for the middle school geothermal project.