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August 16, 2010

Board OKs plan to restructure debt, save $407,000

In an effort to save taxpayer money and provide flexibility for the district in tough economic times, the School Board authorized the Business Office to finalize a debt restructuring plan. Under a current debt plan, the district is set to retire $20.2 million of debt in 2023 at interest rates that vary between 3.5 and 4.5 percent.  By taking advantage of an environment of extremely low interest rates, the district could drop its overall interest rate to 2.25 percent, retire its debt one year early and save taxpayers approximately $407,000 in total principal and interest payments.

The restructuring will even out payments instead of experiencing a significant drop in 2013 included in the current plan.

“The goal is to provide some immediate tax relief this year and next and to smooth the debt service over the remaining decade,” Business Services Assistant Superintendent Bryan Ruud wrote in a report to the board. “This will allow the taxpayers to see some tax relief during this economic down-turn and allow flexibility for future debt issuance.”

Ruud noted that actual savings could be greater if the bond sale yields a more favorable rate than estimated. Robert Baird Company is assisting the district with the restructuring plan. Documents will be presented to the School Board for final authorization.

School Board, HEF directors recognize departing leader

The Hamilton School Board recognized Anita Weier at its regular meeting Aug. 16 for her years of service as the Hamilton Education Foundation (HEF) executive director. Weier recently resigned her position – one she took on after teaching at Hamilton High School for 40 years.

Superintendent Kathleen Cooke, Ph.D., praised Weier for fulfilling the role as executive director, treasurer and secretary for 17 years. Cooke said Weier’s contributions included turning the fledgling HEF into a foundation that is a role model in the state, expanding fine arts experiences in the district and advocating for children through successful fundraising. Since its inception, HEF has provided $972,139 in grants and awards to students and staff members.

HEF Board Chairman George Semrad said the board will never be able to replace Weier, “but we had a very good teacher.”

Another HEF Board member, Sherry Howard, thanked Weier for “the amazing amount of time and effort you have put into this foundation.”

The HEF Board will meet in August to determine an interim plan following Weier departure.

Personnel business

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • Approved a three-year contract with custodial and maintenance staff that provides total aggregate salary and benefit increases of 3.34 percent in 2010-11, 2.63 percent in 2011-12, and 2.28 percent in 2012-13.
  • Modified the contract of Hamilton German teacher Lindsey Klein from 83 to 100 percent;
  • Appointed part-time Early Math Empowerment paraprofessional positions to Christina White at Marcy, Melissa Heckman at Woodside and Alicia Ide at Maple Avenue;
  • Approved Kristen Swoboda as a Woodside first grade replacement teacher and Laurel Schenkoske as a part-time German teacher; and
  • Appointed Katherina Schneiker as a part-time Woodside instructional and supervision paraprofessional, and Stephanie Shelly and Holly Luczak as part-time Maple Avenue Title I paraprofessionals.