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Bond refinancing to save 518 taxpayers $1.3M

WORTHINGTON — District 518 taxpayers will save more than $1.3 million, or roughly $130,000 annually for the next 10 years, due to a favorable refinancing of the Prairie Elementary bonds.

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“That was higher than the projected savings total, and a huge savings for a refinancing,” Superintendent John Landgaard said during Tuesday’s District 518 Board of Education meeting. “It’s always a good day when we can save money for taxpayers, and this will really help in the long run.”

The board had earlier granted the administration approval to seek refinancing of the remaining bonded amount on the 2001 elementary building.

Other good financial news for the district came in the form of an “unmodified, clean audit report” from the Worthington accounting firm Drealan Kvilhaug Hoefker & Co., P.A.

Partner Ellen Hoefker delivered the report at the meeting, saying the audit process, which began in July, found District 518 to be in a “solid and stable financial situation,” with a 22.7 percent increase in the general fund balance and a 37.6 percent increase in the food service fund.

“District 518 also receives $2.7 million in federally sourced dollars, and that, too, met the higher level of scrutiny required of districts receiving more than $500,000 in federal funds,” reported Hoefker.

The board’s instructional and operating committees had both previously reviewed the draft audit report.

“The district’s continued growth is a huge benefit financially,” said Landgaard. “Additional numbers make us that much stronger and help solidify our finances.”

More proof of that assertion: Standard & Poor’s gave District 518 rankings of AA+ and AA- in two separate bond ratings for the proposed bond referendum, which Landgaard called “a positive overall review.”

Other items on the meeting’s main agenda, all of which were ultimately unanimously approved by the seven-member board, included the expulsion of two students in connection with recent behavioral incidents, the approval of the Flexible Learning Year third-year report and the approval of an intellectual property agreement.

“As we move more into the online world, this is basically a guideline to prove ownership of intellectual property,” said Landgaard. “Right now, we have two teachers who are involved in online work who would fall under this.”

Added Board chair Linden Olson, “This is a good start in this area, though changes may need to be made down the line.”

Official school enrollment figures for District 518, effective Oct. 1, were released. For the 2013-14 school year, the district has a total of 2,823 students (1,169 at Prairie Elementary, 784 at Worthington Middle School, 778 at Worthington High School and 92 at the Alternative Learning Center).

An additional 194 students attend either St. Mary’s Catholic School (107), Worthington Christian School (66) or are homeschooled (21). The total of non-public students has remained roughly constant over the past 20 years, it was noted.

Among the notable names on the lengthy approval of employment list was that of DeAnn Crall, who will begin work as the new District 518 Food Service Coordinator effective Nov. 11.

In his superintendent’s report, Landgaard asked board members to review copy for the latest brochure about the Nov. 5 levy referendum. The brochure is due to be mailed to voters the week of Oct. 21.

This morning, the District 518 committee (Landgaard, WHS Principal Paul Karelis, District 518 Activities Director Josh Dale and board member Lori Dudley) tasked with discussing consolidation of the South Central and Southwest Conferences will meet to review a final plan for the combined conferences. Issues surrounding mileage comparisons, bus time, instructional time and schedules have all been addressed.

The Big South Conference is the confirmed name of the 13-school consortium, which is to include Worthington, Windom, Jackson, Luverne, Marshall, Pipestone, Redwood Valley, Blue Earth, Fairmont, New Ulm, St. James, St. Peter and Waseca.

“The athletic/activities directors of these schools have put a great deal of work into figuring this out,” said Landgaard, who hopes plans for the Big South will be finalized by the end of November.

Early in the meeting, board chair Linden Olson acknowledged two donations recently made to the district — funds from the Prairie Parent Group to pay for appearances earlier this week by the theater group CLIMB and a stuffed, mounted snowy owl given by the Worthington Optimist Club for use in the district’s science and agriculture departments.

Olson also recognized Bud’s Bus Service for “great service and a great start to the school year with student transportation,” and A Ler, the ALC’s September Student of the Month.

The final public information meeting about the Nov. 5 levy referendum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct.. 24 in the Prairie Elementary cafeteria, and the date for canvassing results of the Nov. 5 election was placed at 7:15 a.m. Nov. 12.

The next regular meeting of the District 518 board is set for 5:15 p.m. Nov. 19 in the WHS media center.

For more information about recent proceedings of the District 518 board of directors, visit