ELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times
The USD 480 school board had only a few items to take care of during a special meeting Monday evening.
Up first for the board was discussion of Resolution 06-20-22 concerning the lease purchase for upcoming projects.
“WHEREAS the District has immediate need for acquiring, equipping and installing (a) exterior siding and building envelope repair and replacement at Liberal High School and (b) new turf athletic field surfaces at Eisenhower Middle School and Seymour Rogers Middle School, and all improvements appurtenant there to (collectively the ‘Improvements’) to further its governmental and public purposes as contemplated by law, but does not have sufficient moneys on hand legally available to purchase the improvements for its use,” the resolution noted. “And WHEREAS, in order to facilitate the foregoing and to pay the cost thereof, it is necessary and desirable for the District to enter into an annually renewable lease purchase agreement with Signature Public Funding Corp. (the ‘Lender’), pursuant to which the District will lease the Improvements on a year-to-year basis from the Lender with an option to purchase the Lender’s interest in the improvements, a form of which has been submitted to the governing body for review, and WHEREAS, in order to facilitate the foregoing and to pay the costs thereof, it is necessary and desirable for the District to enter into an Escrow Agreement with Signature Bank, as escrow agent, pursuant to which the proceeds of the agreement will be held in trust by the escrow agent pending their use to pay the costs of the improvements, a form of which has been submitted to the governing body for review.”
After a quick motion and second to approve the resolution, the board took a deeper dive into it.
“I’m all for this, but I did have some questions, and there were a few things I was talking about earlier with Jerry [Clay], because we don’t have solid numbers as far as where we’re going to be at,” board member Alan Brown said. “For example, if it comes in too high to do the brick work, if it’s $3.5 million and we ultimately decide not to do that, it’s a 2 percent penalty to send the money back to them. It’s pretty specific in the contract, and that’s something I was talking to Jerry about because there’s not really a lot of wiggle room in case circumstances change for whatever reason.”
“You would have to go back and pass another resolution saying ‘This exceeded what our projected cost was’ and then you would need to modify this resolution to change the purpose and what’s being done,” Clay said. “That would also require legal counsel to get involved and all of that. If you go over, you have the $5 million ... let’s say it comes in at $5.5 million, if the board wanted to do so, they could fund that last $500,000 out of Capital Outlay. And if it comes under, we’d go to Gilmore & Bell and talk to them about adding something, like maybe a set of computers, just for example.”
“The turf is going to come in pretty close to that expected number, so I think we’ll be really close there, but I think with the other $2.5 million, that will be more up in the air as far as whether that would be the final cost and/or whether we’d be able to do that part of the work,” Brown said. “Or maybe the engineers will also say we need to put up siding or something like that. So the turf I’m pretty confident about, but it’s the brick work that’s kind of concerning me. To an extent, my understanding was once we got the $5 million, we’d have a little flexibility, but I’m now realizing the contract is extremely specific.”
“I would say we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” board member Nick Hatcher said. “I would think we’d be able to find something to upgrade that would fit into all of that if something doesn’t quite add up with our projections.”
“And there are projects that are allowed through a lease finance and others that are not,” Clay added. “For example, HVAC unit replacement, or roofing repairs, or a new activity bus, things like that since they’re pieces of equipment. I will admit there are some things that aren’t allowed that I don’t quite understand why, but those are the rules.”
Ultimately, the board voted to approve Resolution 06-20-22. The board also took on discussion of a contract with eLuma Therapy, which would allow USD 480 to meet the speech and language needs of students in the district, After some discussion, the matter died due to a lack of motion due to some changes that occurred shortly before the meeting, but will return before the board at a future meeting.
To conclude the meeting, the board approved a bid from American Bus for a 2021 model year activity bus with less than 20,000 miles. The cost for the bus is $297,635, and will be available in July.
“We had talked about this last year about replacing our old buses, and it’s a need because when repairs were needed, there wasn’t a chassis that could be found, or some other part or another, which ultimately became a problem,” Director of Operations Chad Mease said. “So we started looking and when we put this out for bid, the lone bid from American Bus is what we received. And it’s in pretty good shape, I think it’ll be a good addition to our fleet.”