|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - June 2009
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Trustees OK sale of bonds; Bids sought for high school project
Polk County Enterprise - June 2009
LIVINGSTON — The Texas school bond market is very active, according to fi nancial adviser Doug Witt of Southwest Securities. Witt recommended the district issue $8 million of the remaining $10.5 million authorized by voters for construction of a new high school campus. Witt reported that most of the fi nancial data used for the bond project remains on target. This second issue will increase the interest and sinking tax rate 2 cents per $100/valuation, as projected. The bond issue is timed to ensure LISD makes an interest payment by August, qualifying the district for the existing debt allotment payment from the state. Legislation is not yet passed, according to Witt, but the measure seems to have the support of legislative leaders.
The bill has gone through the Senate and is now pending in the House to roll the qualifying date forward from Aug. 31, 2007 to Aug. 31, 2009 — as has been done in prior sessions. The 2009 series will have an A rating by Standard and Poor’s, Witt said. The fi rst series obtained a AAA rating, but the program that guaranteed the AAA rating is not insuring additional bonds. The decline of that portfolio puts existing guaranteed debt in excess of the legal limit. Witt added that some federal relief is a possibility, but is not likely to occur in time for this bond issue. Other data used in the LISD bond model remains on course. The taxable assessed valuation history, project and current status is 6.5 — planners used 4 for the model. The average daily attendance history, projection and current status remains 30 students above the model at 3,780. The Comptroller’s value history, however, is very different from the local value.
The Comptroller’s value is up 30 percent, compared to a 5 percent increase in local value. If that comparison number stays the same, Witt says the state funding percentage will come down. The uncertainty of that factor is prompting advisers to retain $2.5 million of the authorized bond amount to see if the problem works itself out. The interest rate history, projection and current status is greater than 5 percent, Witt said. The interest and sinking fund history, projection and current status should fi nish the year with a very healthy balance of about $800,000. Trustees voted to approve a motion that authorizes reimbursement of expenditures from the general fund for the capital project when the bond closes. A second resolution authorizes Southwest Securities staff to proceed with the issuance when legislation is passed and signed by the governor. In early June the legislation related to the existing debt allotment should be fi nalized, Witt said. At the June 29 board meeting, trustees will adopt an order authorizing the issuance of bonds. The 2009-2010 Certified Taxable Value will be received July 27 and the bond closing and fund transfer is expected to be done July 29.
Witt said local investors will have an opportunity to purchase bonds when they are issued. Bidding begins Bid documents for the new Livingston High School will be published on the Internet at iSquareFoot.com, architect Kevin Smith reported to trustees Monday. The bids will be opened at J.E. Kingham Construction Company offices on June 25. Kingham staff will validate bidders in 150 different categories and will deliver a guaranteed maximum price. Architect Kevin Smith said many people have not grasped the size of the project. “I don’t think everyone understands the scope of this building. There is more than seven acres of heated and cooled space here,” Smith said. 4X4 Curriculum Current state law requires high school students to complete four credits of math, science, history and English to graduate — commonly referred to as the 4x4 requirement — which leaves little room in students’ schedules for career technology programs or electives, Janan Moore, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, told board members Monday. To help address that, LISD will offer some high school credit courses to incoming eighthgraders at Livingston Junior High.
Next year, eighth grade students will be placed in one of three math classes — the regular math class, advanced eighth grade math or Algebra I. The advanced class is being offered for students who are not quite ready for Algebra I, who could be better prepared for advanced math classes in high school. Students who want to complete calculus before graduation, need to complete Algebra I in eighth grade, Moore said. Superintendent Dr. Darrell Myers said by opening some fine arts, health and science classes to eighth graders, it gives high school students more opportunity to take career technology classes like culinary arts or vocational agriculture and fine arts electives such as band and choir. Vocational Ag classes will be discontinued at the eighth grade level because federal career technology funds cannot be used at the junior high campus and administrators found enrollment in Ag classes among ninthgraders was declining. “The best thing we can do is move Ag back to the high school and move other classes down to the junior high level to free up room for career and technology classes in high school,” Myers said. Trustee Ben Ogletree III asked if the 4x4 program left room for students to take fine arts all four years in high school. Myers replied that there is room for those courses in the schedule all four years, but students can expand their opportunities to take fine arts and advanced placement classes by attending summer school and meeting some requirements in eighth grade. Track resurfacing After lengthy discussion, trustees took no action to rescind previous action to repair the junior high track. Jim Kingham, the construction manager at risk for the Livingston Junior High project and the high school project now under way, said he has reviewed drawings and notes prepared by architects in October 2000.
His company, J.E. Kingham Construction Company, subcontracted with Vibra-Whirl Synthetic Coating to install the track according to plans drawn up by architects and engineers. Vibra-Whirl is no longer in business. Kingham said there is a “nontypical detail at the curb” near the starting area of the track when compared to other track systems installed at other schools Kingham has built. The district had a five-year warranty and in the fourth year repairs were made around the edge of the track at the outside curve. East Texas weather conditions cause the track surface to push and pull against the curb. Kingham said a gap has developed so that now all the water that hits the track runs over the curb. “All Vibra-Whirl did was the synthetic surface,” Kingham said. “I don’t think it did fail, it’s a perimeter issue.” The current problem with the synthetic surface separating from the asphalt underneath is three to four years old, according to Kingham. “It never was a delamination issue — we would have addressed that,” Kingham said.
Since the track was installed Kingham said he has been notified twice of problems. Those were addressed and the company that put the surface down came back out and repaired it under Kingham’s direct supervision. The track is now nine years old. Trustees discussed options for evaluating what the track’s shortcomings are with Kingham, LISD Director of Plant Services Terry Jordan and Bob Strand, the contractor who submitted the resurfacing proposal approved by the board at the April meeting. LISD From Page 1A Strand said the asphalt surface should be flush with the curb. In some places the surface is below that and it causes trouble. Waller ISD has that issue now, Strand said. Kingham said the subsurface of the track should still be good and the problem should be strictly superficial. Jordan told trustees he was concerned that he’s not seeing any solution that prevents the problem from recurring. Architects working on the new high school construction will assist with obtaining core samples to test the track’s subsurface conditions. Budget Amendments Trustees approved three budget amendments Monday for the following: • $155,000 to resolve a licensing issue with Microsoft. • $161,200 for resurfacing the junior high track, and • Funds for the creation of a new position in the technology department. The items will be funded by the unreserved balance in the general fund. A contract to remove asbestos and demolish the old high school auditorium adjacent to the intermediate campus was approved Monday. The work will be done between mid-June and mid-July. Contractors will fill the hole left by the demolition back to grade.
LISD trustees unanimously approved a resolution supporting the creation of Polk County College/Commerce Center. The board also approved an agreement with Lamar University and the University of Texas at Arlington to offer distance learning classes to juniors and seniors at Livingston High School. A list of courses available was distributed to board members. Livingston ISD will accept transfers of secondary students living outside the district under strict guidelines, the board decided Monday. The transfer requirements include: • No disciplinary referrals to an Alternative Education campus. • Pass the TAKS test on first attempt, and • 95 percent attendance record during the previous school year. Trustees tabled a proposal to allow staff members to enroll their children in the LISD PreK program for a fee. Deputy Superintendent Diana Kelm said a staff survey showed 11 children of staff could potentially participate. Dividing additional costs among those 11 parents would be about $111 a week for a half-day program. Most area child care providers charge $85 a week for a full day, so it does not seem to be cost effective for most staff members, according to Kelm.
Just before adjourning into an executive session to discuss personnel matters, four parents spoke during a public comment period. All four spoke about disciplinary/legal action taken in the wake of an incident that damaged the baseball field leased by the district at Pedigo Park. Local business owner Jack Abdallah said the event was “very bad” and he didn’t like what students had done at all, but that the punishment hurt more than it helped. Abdallah added that the incident resulted from angry outbursts they had seen in the last few months. “They are good kids, they were pushed to do this.” Debra Jenke told trustees that two weeks and one day ago she had an angry child. Two weeks ago she had an angry child who had done something bad, now she has an angry child that she doesn’t know what lies ahead for him. “We have problems in the baseball program that need to be addressed,” John Haynes told trustees. “I’m not looking for special treatment, I want you to do what’s fair and in the best interest of the kids.” Mike Ingvardsen told trustees he was happy with the direction the baseball program has taken. He told commissioners his child participates in a select team coached by people who are a whole lot harsher and stricter than in Livingston. “My son hasn’t always been a Incumbent Livingston school board members Mike Nettles, left, and Henry Ager, right, were sworn in to a new term of office Monday. starter, but this season he hardly missed an inning,” Ingvardsen said. His son has signed a four-year baseball scholarship, he added. Trustees then adjourned into a closed executive session to discuss athletic personnel, according to Monday’s agenda. They took no action on that item but approved a number of other personnel changes that appear in another item on this page.