Fairmont schools talk bonding

FAIRMONT– During the Fairmont School Board meeting on Tuesday evening, Matthew Hammer from Ehlers Public Finance Advisors presented the board with results from the sale of the district’s $6.73 million general obligation bonds following the special election which took place on Feb. 9.

“I come to you from Ehlers today with some really good news. We took bids this morning and ended up with a 1.87 percent interest rate,” Hammer said.

Hammer said that pre-sale estimates they had previously provided were at a 2.67 percent interest rate.

“In big numbers, what that means is we’re looking at debt service levies for property tax levies over the life of the bonds of about $1.8 million less than pre-election estimates,” Hammer said.

Hammer said on a home valued at $150,000, the tax impact will be $10 a year on taxes payable in 2022.

In other news, Board member Nicole Green said that at the last school board meeting, which was not recorded, the board approved next year’s school calendar and she wanted to bring up the dates for summer enrichment academies. The dates are June 21- July 2 with a week break, July 12-29 with no classes on Fridays, and August 3-20 with no classes on Mondays.

Superintendent Joe Brown said that they will be setting a $13 an hour rate for student tutors. He said at the high school level, there’s a clause in the contract that if you teach summer school the pay is $35 an hour.

“To encourage some high school faculty to consider teaching, we talked about it being either $35 an hour or your hourly rate of pay, whatever is greater,” Brown said.

Brown said teachers have the option to teach during summer school for a two-week time frame, three-week time frame, or all eight weeks.

Brown said third-quarter reports came out last week and showed about a third of students are getting failing grades in many of their classes.

“We want to make sure we have multiple summer school’s going on,” Brown said.

Board member Mike Edman said, “My reaction on what we were hearing in terms of fail or about to fail rate was entirely unacceptable. We’re talking about 30 percent, a third, in some situations. That doesn’t meet my expectations as a board member for our school district,” Edman said.

He said he realizes that Covid has been very impactful on both students and parents, but as a board member he expects faculty to see it for the problem that it is.

“Collectively we need to help these kids,” Edman said.

In the last few days, Brown said they’ve also had a significant number of students who have opted for virtual learning. 215 out of the 827 students at the high school are now doing distance learning.

“Hallways seem empty,” said student school board member Morgan Hoong.

Moving to other matters, Green said that the Policy Committee recently made some policy revisions. Green said they cleaned up the graduation policy regarding credits.

“Our total number of required courses stayed the same,” Green said.

Green said they also made some changes to the student transportation safety policy

“The big change was with regards to the class of offenses,” Green said.

Green said they had a parent ask them to make it simpler.

“We want our students to be able to understand what the rules are and what the consequences are without having to spend a long time looking it up. Basically, it’s just be nice and follow the cardinal expectations and you’ll be good on the school bus,” Green said.

In other news, the board approved the resignations of Kali Erichsrud, elementary teacher, and Fiona Edberg, English teacher, both effective June, 3.


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