The Harrison School Board took care of some money matters last week, one of which will save money on bonded debt and the other regarding payment of outstanding debt to the district.
Superintendent Dr. Stewart Pratt said First Security Beardsley financial company of Little Rock had been examining the school’s bonded debt for areas of potential savings. He turned the floor over to district business manager Shannan Lovelace.
Lovelace reminded the board that they had approved refinancing the district’s construction bond to save money with a lower interest rate.
Beardsley had identified a smaller bond issue, one used for HVAC upgrades in 2016. By refinancing, the district could save about $138,000 over the lifetime of the bond issue with $104,000 realized in the first year, Lovelace said.
The interest rate would save the district more than 5.4% in interest, and any savings over 3% is considered to be viable for refinancing.
The cost of issuing bonds has already been factored into the savings the district would realize, so it wouldn’t cost the district any money on the front end.
Lovelace said a change in state law means the savings would be completely unrestricted and can be used for any purpose, not just construction.
In the May board meeting, Susan Gilley, administration executive director, told the board that there were a number of students and staff who had outstanding balances for meals at school.
Gilley said outstanding balances for graduating seniors have historically been forgiven.
Pratt said that state law changed regarding school meal payments. He said the district must be careful in asking parents to pay student balances and if a student with a balance went to the cafeteria to eat, they couldn’t say anything to them at all.
The state has requested data from districts regarding unpaid balances and Harrison is complying.
In May, Pratt recommended using about $1,000 in operating funds to pay unpaid balances for graduating seniors then the remainder would carry over to the next school year.
The board agreed.
Pratt also said an individual he didn’t name had rented the Performing Arts Center at the High School and didn’t pay the bill of about $800.
The board allowed Pratt to work with the individual to work out a payment plan for renting the PAC.
Pratt said last week that a payment plan had been arranged and the district had received about $400 out of the $800 owed for facility rental.
Gilley said they had contacted all staff members who had outstanding balances from school meals and had by Tuesday collected about $2,000.
She said she was going to let other people who had outstanding balances know that the balance will be carried forward into the next school year.
Gilley also said food service manager Jonathan Dove has worked out a plan that all staff would be notified of their balances monthly before pay day. As it turned out, some staff who had balances hadn’t even eaten in the past year, but carried balances from previous years, some even from when they worked at a different school building in the system.
Gilley told the board that she and administrative assistant Linda Alford have discussed implementing a deposit fee for rental of school facilities to avoid those outstanding bills.
Board chairman asked Pratt if administration had reached out to the Harrison Public School Foundation to find out if there might be donations available to cover the debt.
Pratt said he hadn’t done that as of Tuesday, but there is a foundation meeting next week and he will ask Debbie Wilson, the liaison between the district and foundation, to broach the topic.