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Schools get state money on time

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By Dave Bell

In contrast to the past several years, the Vandalia Board of Education on Tuesday received good news on the financial front.
Superintendent Rich Well told the board that the state made its fourth quarterly categorical payment to the district before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
That on-time payment leaves the district with an unanticipated windfall of $400,000 in state funding. In recent years, the state had delayed that final payment until mid-July, which means it had to be applied to the next fiscal year’s revenues.
“Those funds weren’t in our revenue projection,” Well said. “Our budget is based on 89-percent general state aid funding and cuts of up to 26 percent in categoricals. This puts us in a real solid position.”
Even with the unexpected payment, Well said that the district would continue to “plan a budget that is based on the cuts we’ve had in the past.”
Also at Tuesday’s 35-minute meeting, the board approved a plan to issue $1,127,000 in general obligation bonds and $1,230,000 in refunding bonds “for the purpose of increasing the working cash fund of the district and refunding certain outstanding bonds of the district, and providing for the levy of a direct annual tax sufficient to pay the principal and interest on said bonds.”
“These bonds won’t be paid until 2023, which gives the district some additional working cash to help meet its obligations,” said Timothy King, president of King’s Financial Consulting of Monticello.
“This allowed the board to hire back about nine teachers that were temporarily laid off and to maintain two other programs.”
King said the impact of refinancing the bonds to extend the payoff plan by one year would add about $10 in annual property taxes for a $100,000 home.
He also noted that the district has the capacity to issue another $748,000 in the next two years, if needed.
The total expense of the refinancing was $66,153 (or 2.89 percent), with payments going to the bond counsel, financial adviser, surety bond and registrar.
“This gives us way more options,” said Well.
“It’s nice to know that we have that cushion,” added board president Chris Palmer.
At the close of the meeting, the board:
• Approved a bid of $103,000 from Lester Construction for a window replacement project at Jefferson Primary School. Approximately $50,000 of that project is funded by a grant, Well said.
• Approved the following volunteer coaches: Matt Philbrick, Vandalia Community High School soccer; Matt Shroyer and Randy Shroyer, VCHS football; Meg Marquardt and Todd Marquardt, VCHS swimming; Gena Nance, VCHS cross country; and Chad Austin, Vandalia Junior High School boys basketball.
• Approved the resignation of Anne Winchester, VCHS Spanish teacher.
• Approved the following transfers: Jamie Michel, VCHS language arts to VCHS Spanish; Katrina Moss, VCHS behavior disorder to VCHS special education; and Kate Timmermann, VJHS fifth-grade teacher to Vandalia Elementary School fourth-grade teacher.
• Approved the employment of: Chris Cole, VCHS custodian; Kelli Rogers, VCHS language arts; and Sarah Fairbanks, half-time VJHS band/music.
• Approved a commercial insurance renewal increase of $3,156 (2.53 percent) for premiums that went from $82,418 to $84,716 because of an increase in property value.
• Approved bids for food and paper products for the cafeteria program, including bakery items from Bimbo Bakery, milk and juices from Stark Distributing, and food and paper products from Kohl Wholesale and Fox River Foods.
• Approved district fees and handbooks.