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Bond Sale Favorable for District and Taxpayers
A combination of quality planning and good luck will benefit the students and taxpayers of Colusa Unified School District. Bonds authorized by an overwhelming majority of the voters back in November went to market on April 16th. The sale resulted in higher than expected funding for the district, lower than expected costs, and significant savings for the district’s taxpayers.
Lorie Raineri, President of Government Financial Strategies (GFS), presented the final numbers to the CUSD Board of Trustee’s at Tuesday evening’s regular meeting. Ms. Raineri’s detailed and lively presentation was met with applause from the board and audience at several points. GFS was hired by the Board in 2013 to guide the district through the process of analyzing, preparing for, and executing a successful bond program.
The District sold $5,900,000 in bonds to well-known investment bank, Piper Jaffray, after a highly competitive bid sale. GFS oversaw bidding from six different investment firms, an unusually high number of bidders for a relatively small amount of bonds. The fierce competition for these bonds drove the bidding to unusually low rates which resulted in significant savings for the taxpayers. The Piper Jaffray bid was $17,000 lower than the next closest bid, and a remarkable $280,000 below the highest bid. “Those numbers represent savings to the taxpayers, and reflect the success of GFS’ efforts to create a high demand, competitive bid process,” commented Ms. Raineri. Piper’s low bid of 3.35% was actually below the market index, a measure of the average interest on current market bonds.
A combination of the rebounding economy and sound fiscal planning resulted in even greater savings for the taxpayers. Assessed value of properties in the school district turned out to be higher than expected due to the rate of the nation-wide economic recovery. Shortening the term of the bonds by 7 years resulted in an amazing $3.9M savings to the taxpayers. “Decreasing the term of a bond saves taxpayers money, just as shorting the term of a mortgage saves money for a homeowner,” Raineri explained. Additionally, the amount of tax per $100,000 of assessed value dropped from an early estimate of $47.55 to a surprising $42.90. Which means that taxpayers will pay less than they expected to pay at the time of the bond election. “I’m really pleased that we are able to get the money our schools need for modernization, and save on taxes at the same time,” said CUSD Board of Trustees President Lincoln Forry.
The competitive bond sale and some savvy business dealing by GFS resulted in a lower than expected cost of issuing the bonds. Initially, GFS estimated that the costs and fees would reduce the bond proceeds to $5.45M, a cost of $455,000. After all the deals were complete and agreements signed, the district only paid $185,000 to issue the bonds. The bonds also sold “at a premium” which means the district will receive $5.8M in proceeds, an additional $355K over initial estimates, money which can be spent on much needed repairs and renovations.
Raineri’s presentation capped nearly two years of work by the district to secure bond funds for modernization of CUSD’s aging infrastructure. The bond funds will be combined with district reserves and Proposition 39 funds to make just over $7.2M available for school repairs and upgrades. Superintendent Dwayne Newman added, “Our board did a great job of insuring that GFS understood our needs, and our philosophy of fiscal conservatism. This is a good start, and will do some much needed work, but remember that our facilities assessment identified over $35 million in needed repairs and modernization. We’re really pleased and fortunate that everything worked out so well. Our taxpayers benefitted, our community will benefit, and our students will certainly benefit from this project.”
CUSD Supports Water Conservation
Less Water for Turf Areas
In accordance with the Governor’s directive, and in compliance with the City of Colusa’s restrictions, Colusa Schools have already begun to take steps to drastically reduce water usage. The majority of the potable water used by CUSD goes onto our turf areas. The unprecedented nature of this drought makes it necessary to conserve water in every way imaginable. The district currently waters the grass areas at Egling MS and Burchfield PS twice a week. Both areas are now receiving 33% less water than has been applied in the past. The sprinklers not only run for shorter periods, but are scheduled to run twice during a cycle to minimize the chance of any water running off and going to waste. Typically a set of sprinklers would run one time for 30 minutes. Now the same set of sprinklers run one time for 10 minutes, pause for a few hours to allow all the water to soak into the ground, and run again for another 10 minutes. Our turf consultants tell us this is the most efficient way to utilize water. We realize that those turf areas represent a sizable financial investment for the district, and will do what we can to protect that investment using as little water as possible.
At the high school our sprinklers run off a well. While not strictly required to reduce water usage from wells, the district feels it prudent to similarly comply at that site also. Playing fields will be kept in safe and playable condition until the end of the season, after which watering will be cut back significantly. The goal will be to save as much water as possible while keeping the turf alive and able to recover when the rains return.
As the weather becomes warmer we expect to see our turf areas looking less than great. Changes in soil types and other factors will make it impossible to keep the grass a uniformly green color using such a reduced amount of water. Any new landscaping plans will be evaluated based on appearance and ability to survive on very little water. The District waters most areas in the late evening and early morning hours. While we strive to insure our sprinklers are functioning properly, they do occasionally get damaged. If you happen to notice a sprinkler on district property which is spraying onto the sidewalk, please call the District Office immediately (530) 458-7791.
Other Water Saving Efforts
As we begin the process of modernizing our facilities, any restroom remodel will include very-low-flow fixtures, and possibly even no-flow urinals. We will strive to make all those systems as efficient as possible. Additionally, parents can help by talking to their children about the importance of saving water. Waterless hand sanitizers are a great way to clean hands, and many classrooms have this available to the children. Particularly at the lower grades students should be taught water conservation at home and school. Students should also be encouraged to report leaking fixtures.
Our entire staff is actively looking for additional water-saving ideas. We want to be good neighbors and responsible citizens.
CUSD now has an official Facebook page: Like us at www.facebook.com/ColusaUnifiedSchoolDistrict
PDF FILES ON THE WEBSITE
Please be advised that PDF files on this website requires Acrobat X to view.
PARENT ACCESS TO GRADES ONLINE
We continue to have the process that allows parents to access their child's grades and attendance online (Aeries Browser Interface). If you have not signed up and would like to use this service, please contact your student's school office for the step-by-step process. We strongly encourage all parents to take advantage of this opportunity. You can see excactly which assignments have been turned in and each part of their grade (homework, tests, quizzes, projects, etc.).
Another way to access information about your student's classes is to go to our new district website here at: http//:colusa.k12.ca.us (click on your child's school). Many teacher web pages are up and some are under construction. You can email all teachers through this portal.
New Cafeteria Computerized Payment System for School Meals
The Nutrition and Food Service Department recently evaluated many different computerized Point of Sale (POS) systems to increase the level of service and provide accurate school meal accounts. After reviewing several systems, a decision has been made to purchase the NUTRIKIDS® POS System. We are currently preparing to implement this new system in our (district\school) with a launch date of Tuesday, March 3, 2015.
The first few days of implementation may be a bit slower than normal; however, as students familiarize themselves with the system, the lines should move much more quickly.
Every student enrolled in Colusa Unified Schools has been entered into the computerized system. We strongly recommend parents/guardians deposit money into their student’s account via cash, check or by registering with our new online payment center, at www.myschoolbucks.com (the link will be available on the district website, Student Nutrition page). However, the system is quite flexible and students can still pay in cash. We will no longer be linked into or using PayPams as our cafeteria student account payment center. If you are registered with PayPams, you will notice that you no longer have the ability to login to your student’s account(s). We have transferred all student / staff accounts to MySchoolBucks. You will need to register and deposit as desired. We are very excited to inform you that you will now be able to make a deposit to all your student accounts (even if they attend different school sites within our district) in one transaction with one fee of 1.95. It was brought to my attention that parents do not use PayPams due to the high cost of $1.95 per student/ transaction. For this reason and several other upgrades and service related advantages, we have decided the challenge of changing systems could no longer be avoided.
Our Student Nutrition Department is pleased to announce the availability of applying for Free and Reduced Price Meals online! The process is SAFE, SECURE, PRIVATE, and AVAILABLE anytime, anywhere at www.HeartlandApps.com (link will be available on the district website, Student Nutrition page). If your child has qualified for free or reduced meal prices for school 2014-2015, this information is noted in the system, and the meal will be processed just as it is for all other students without any special indication to the students. If you notice any change to your students eligibility (if your child is now being asked to pay and was free or reduced prior to 3/3/15) please immediately contact Terry Weldon at 530-458-7791 (ext. 14115) or Leasa Hill 530-566-6251.
If you are concerned about a food allergy that your son/daughter has, please notify the cafeteria or school nurse with this information.
If for any reason you would like a copy of the transactions for your child’s account, we will be able to give you a print out. Again, any balance remaining on your PayPams account will automatically transfer to MySchoolBucks on Tuesday, March 3rd!
If you have questions, please feel free to call me at my office at 530-566-6251.
Thank you in advance for your patience in implementing this system.