BRPS board successfully sells bonds

BIG RAPIDS — After the Big Rapids Public Schools bond proposal successfully passed in the May 8 election, board of education members have taken the next step to get work underway.

During a BRPS board meeting on Monday, members approved the sale of the school building and site bonds, in the amount of $22,025,000, which marks the beginning of the next phase of the work to be completed.

The bonds will be used toward improvements in classrooms and learning; safety, security and health; and buildings and grounds. Improvements to classrooms and learning make up approximately 44 percent of the bond and include remodeling existing classrooms and adding additional space, as well as provide computer access for every student, new classroom furniture and band and wood shop equipment. Flexible spaces for learning and multi-use space additions also are included.

Covered under the safety, security and health portion of the proposal are security upgrades, replacing the aging fleet of buses and improving air quality in the classrooms at all schools in the BRPS district. This portion makes up 16.5 percent of the bond, while buildings and grounds improvements make up the remaining 39.5 percent of the bond funds.

Buildings and grounds improvements include district-wide roof repairs and replacements and developing a multi-purpose field. Other items in the buildings and grounds portion include improvements to the high school auditorium and athletic fields and facilities.

In preparing to sell the bonds, the school district requested that Standard and Poor’s Financial Services LLC (S&P) Global Ratings evaluate the school district’s credit quality. S&P assigned the school district the underlying rating of “A” and stable. The rating agency cited the school district’s stable local economy and enrollment, conservative budgeting practices with consistently positive financial performances and reserves and moderate overall debt burden in its rationale for rating the school district at this level, according to a press release.

The bonds, which were sold at an interest rate of 3.51 percent, have a repayment term of approximately 20 years.

In other financial matters, board members approved the purchase of a new bus from Capital City, for approximately $60,800, and a one-year extension of lawn services and snow removal from Pro Turf Outdoor Services, for approximately $137,400.

Also during the meeting, board members approved:

• new hires including Dean Buist, high school English teacher; Jean Routley-Robinson, elementary teacher; Justine Upham, elementary teacher; and Sue Lenahan, guidance counselor;

• an annual renewal of the school’s partnership with the Michigan High School Athletics Association to participate in post-season events; and

• an annual tax millage rate to continue to levy 18 mills on non-homestead properties.

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Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at mhaas@pioneergroup.com.

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