Home News Local News Dexter school board votes to sell bonds for school improvements

Dexter school board votes to sell bonds for school improvements

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Dexter Consolidated Schools will move ahead with plans to repay some outstanding debt and sell new bonds to fund school improvements.

The school board voted Monday night to redeem $70,000 in 2008 bonds and to sell $1.5 million in previously approved bonds. The vote was unanimous, 3-0, with two members absent.

Superintendent Lesa Dodd gave board members a long list of potential projects that could be funded by the sale of general obligation bonds approved by taxpayers in 2016.

“We do need to get the ball rolling on spending this bond money because we are up for another bond issue” in November 2020, Dodd said. “It is kind of hard to go to the community and ask for another bond election if we haven’t spent the money that we have.”

The district explained after the meeting that they had set aside some of the 2016 bond money as matching funds in case the state ranked some of its large building projects high enough on the priority list that the district would be eligible for standards-based capital funding. When that was not the case this year, the district decided to identify smaller projects that could be done with the remaining bond money.

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The possible projects, which Dodd said came from the district’s master plan and from suggestions by district staff, include building secured entryways for the elementary, middle school and high schools; replacing the floor in the sixth-grade wing; replacing fire alarms and intercom systems for the elementary and high school (with the middle school system needs in discussion now); putting in refrigerated air-conditioning in the Lewis gym, the cafeteria, the middle school and the middle school gym; replacing pre-kindergarten playground equipment; upgrading the middle school playground upgrade; making “cosmetic” repairs to the outside and inside of the middle school; installing shade structures for the elementary school playground; and repaving all of the district-owned parking lots.

The bonds the board voted to sell are part of a $3 million bond issue approved in 2016. In 2017, the district sold $1.5 million of the bonds.

Evan Kist, vice president of RBC Capital Markets, the district’s advisor on bond issues, told board members that the district has a total bonding capacity of about $5 million, with $3.6 million in bond debt already outstanding and $1.453 million unencumbered.

He said that paying off the $70,000 in 2008 bonds, plus some interest, would save the district $8,000 in interest payments over the long-term and bring its unencumbered amount up to $1.5 million for the bond sale this year.

He explained that, with board approval given that night, the sale should be complete by Dec. 14.

“This financing will close and the money will be available on a requisition basis,” he said.

Other actions or discussions by the board included the following.

• This year, the district had the highest number of exemplary teachers in its history, with about five to six earning that designation, as determined by the New Mexico Public Education Department, Dodd said.

• The 2018 school grade given to Dexter Elementary School by the Public Education Department will be changed from a “D” to a “C” following an appeal by the district. Dodd told board members that the 2018 grade did not include the results of “opportunity to learn” surveys completed by students, because the New Mexico Public Education Department could not locate the submissions to the online surveys. Dodd said the PED has agreed to use an average of the previous two years of survey results, which will raise the elementary’s score to 52.31, or a “C.”

• A student protest that began Oct. 2 has ended, Dodd said. About 40 students originally had taken part in the demonstration on school property, with some saying that they were protesting administration actions against a high school teacher. Dodd said students were not suspended or punished, other than failing or having incomplete assignments for missed class work. The board did vote to accept the teacher’s resignation Monday night.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.