April 16, 2013

Carroll Community School Board members are wary of borrowing millions of dollars all at once to pay for five construction projects that would add classroom space to the middle school and a new wrestling room at the high school, among others.

Superintendent Rob Cordes has pushed the board to tackle multiple projects to save money on fees and other costs the district incurs each time it borrows for a project. The five most-likely projects that would be rolled into one include an addition for fifth-grade students to the middle school, a front entryway at the high school, a new softball complex, new wrestling room at the high school and a lunch room at Fairview Elementary.

Total cost for those projects is estimated at $5.6 million.

But board members worried about the estimates being significantly off the mark. Gary Bengtson, director of business affairs for the district, wasn't sure how much the district pays in fees each time it borrows but said it includes fees for Piper Jaffray, an investment bank and asset management firm, and a bonding attorney.

"What happens when it's too expensive and we don't have enough money for the last project?" board member Lavern Dirkx said.

The district is required by federal law to complete the projects within three years. If funding falls short, the district could borrow more, but it would cost an additional $2,000 in fees, Tim Oswald, of Piper Jaffray, has said.

Potential projects also include a new football stadium, a new maintenance facility and a new greenhouse, however, the projects are labeled as "not being considered at this time."

The board can bond up to 75 percent of its expected earnings from a state sales tax that ends in 2029, which is an estimated $12 million.

The board did not discuss which projects it would like to pursue but did pass an engagement agreement with Piper Jaffray that says the board does plan on moving forward with bonding an unspecified amount of money.

The school board also:

- Passed an early-start waiver for the 2013-2014 school year.

- Approved a bid from RL Craft in Denison for $62,324 to redo the gym roof at the high school.

- Bought a laser engraver for $15,912 to engrave the school's name and phone number on the 1,000 Chrome Book laptops the school recently purchased.

- Approved the resignation of John Kitt, a special education teachers associate.

- Approved the hire of Erin March as seventh-grade volleyball coach, Monica Dirkx and Ashley Pudenz as the CMS summer skills teachers, Kelsey Blum and Kara Hausman as middle school teacher associates and Jesse Strong for a middle school special-education position.