This past summer, the District addressed many maintenance issues to our facilities and ushered in some improvements to our buildings. The District made use of the funds generated through our Permanent Improvement, or P.I., levy to pay for these projects. Permanent improvement levies are typically levies of a fixed life, which can be renewed by the voters of the community. The term "permanent" in the label, refers to the fact that law dictates that revenues from these types of levies, must be spent on costs associated with items that have a life of five years for more. The law prohibits the money generated from a P.I. levy from being used to buy books, consumable items such as paper, perishable items or to pay for the salaries of employees.
If you are a visitor to our school this fall, you will notice that the District seal coated the main drives on the Complex grounds. In the summer of 2012, we sealed all the asphalt at Bascom and the Complex. Now our goal is to have a sealing rotation so that we are efficient with our revenue while trying to protect our asphalt and maximize its life expectancy. Moreover, we permanently corrected the drainage issue at the Event Entrance by installing trough drains along the low point of the sidewalk leading into the Event Entrance.
The District made technological advances to our facilities. In this increasingly digital age, schools need to stay on the cutting edge of ensuring their technological assets are suitable for properly educating its students. The District installed wireless capabilities to meet the needs of teachers and students. Wireless access is now available in all LaBrae schools and allows for more mobility in technology use. To do this required the purchase of equipment to be installed in our network infrastructure. This project was completed just prior to the start of summer. Furthermore, permanent improvement funds are being used to integrate technology into the classrooms. The District was able to purchase and install additional interactive projectors in several classrooms in Bascom Elementary School, LaBrae Middle School and LaBrae High School. The interactive projectors provide teachers with additional technology resources that allow their instructional skills to keep up with an advancing technological student population. These projectors allow teachers and students to use electronic pens to write on the projection surface, which is typically a dry erase board or chalkboard. Such a system allows the students to become more actively involved and keeps the student engaged throughout the lesson.
Furthermore, we continue to upgrade our fleet of computers in our classrooms. There are roughly 500 computers throughout the District. An aging fleet of computers needs to be replaced in a systematic fashion. This is necessary, because hardware configurations and software platforms become outdated. In most instances, the manufacturer can no longer support the older version, or the computers do not have the capability to run newer applications, thus it becomes necessary to replace older computers. Each year we gradually replace our older units so that students and staff are working with modern and reliable technology that can handle newer software applications.
At Bascom Elementary asbestos tile was removed from three classrooms. Modern commercial vinyl composition tile, patterned after our scarlet and gray school colors, was installed in those classrooms. Additionally, in order to accommodate the new technologies in the classroom we also removed old asbestos based chalkboards and replaced them with dry erase boards. Seven Bascom Elementary classrooms had chalk boards replaced with dry erase boards. Also, 60 year old asbestos tile, which was degrading and in need of replacement, was removed from the Bascom kitchen and replaced by new quarry tile. The quarry tile was chosen for the kitchen over vinyl tile due to greater durability.
Also, many other minor issues were addressed with our permanent improvement funds. Repairs to fencing from a storm, press box repairs, additional cabinetry, and improvements to our drainage system our main drive were among the improvements completed. As we progress throughout the year, our permanent improvement revenue will provide us with the funds needed to address issues as they arise and enable District leadership to plan for future improvements as we head into next summer.
Should you have questions about the improvements, please contact the Office of the Superintendent at 330.898.1393.
Last month, the District closed out the process of refunding $5,049,995 of construction debt generated for the original school construction project. In 2002, the LaBrae educational community, in partnership with the state of Ohio and the Ohio School Facility Commission, approved the bond issue that provided the necessary funds for the local match needed to construct the current LaBrae Complex, which houses grades 3-12.
In early September, the Board approved the pursuit of refunding the remaining construction debt. The refunding process is similar to the premise by which a homeowner refinances the remaining debt on their mortgage. The thinking is that when you refinance your home with a lower interest rate, you still owe the same in principal, but generate savings in interest costs realized through the lower rate. Likewise, the Board was intent on generating savings by taking advantage of historically low bond rates. Initial estimates projected that the refunding process would safely generate $325,000 in savings to the taxpayers of the community. Upon the close of the refunding process, the Board and Treasurer were thrilled that the actual savings realized were far greater than initial projections. With extremely favorable bond market conditions at the time of the closing, the District was able to create $631,644.17 in savings!
Now that the District needs to collect less money to pay for the interest costs of the remaining principal borrowed, it can begin the process of passing along the savings to the community. Each year the Auditor's office consults the District treasurer as to how to adjust the bond millage so that the District is able to collect an appropriate amount of money to pay the necessary principal and interest on the bonds. Over the remaining life of the debt, with expected payoff in 2024, taxpayers of the community can expect to see slight decreases in their property taxes associated with the original bond issue. On an individual taxpayer basis, the savings are small. However, as a whole, the $631,644.17 savings is phenomenal.
The leadership of the LaBrae Board of Education, and the prudent money management of District treasurer, Carol Jones, are to be lauded for the pursuit and successful completion of this monumental cost savings measure. Additionally, it serves as an important reminder that the Board of Education continues to be good stewards of taxpayer money.
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