District 56 plans to borrow $700,000
Taking advantage of historically low interest rates – perhaps as low as 1.3% - District 56 plans to borrow $700,000 to start work on a capital needs list.
The money cannot be used for salaries – only for improvements to the physical aspects of six functioning schools and one closed school in the Clinton-Joanna district. It must be repaid by property taxes; but with other debt being retired, and the short-term nature of the borrowing, no taxpayer will see a District 56 increase on a tax notice.
Sidewalks at Eastside and Clinton Elementaries, and the back parking lot of Clinton Middle School (beside Wilder Stadium) are among the need-to-be-done projects. The district also is looking at resurfacing the track at Clinton High School. These and others will have to be assembled on a priority list, according to Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields.
“Our roofs are in pretty good shape,” he said, following a called meeting of the District 56 Board of Trustees. The board spent and hour and 53 minutes in executive session before voting 6-0 to issue the bond (board member Jan Simmons was absent).
The board also agreed to hire one person on an induction contract and one person on an annual contract. Also, the board authorized creation of a new high school course, PE 5, a second semester strength and conditioning class for underclass football players. Successful competition gives a student 1 unit of study credit. It will be a 4th block, end-of-the-day class, the board was told.
Addressing the bond issue, District Finance Director Lynn Lawson told the board there will be no tax increase associated with the not-to-exceed $700,000 bond. The district could borrow up to $4,499,490 without conducting a referendum (total 8% borrowing capacity/limit, not adjusted for outstanding debt.)
If interest rates remain low, the board could decide to issue a short-term (less than 12 months) bond each year without a tax increase. It is an “opportunity to provide steady revenue stream dedicated to making annual advancements and improvements and compete for students in Laurens County,” a facts sheet says.
It would be a “year by year decision,” the sheet says.
The Local Government Report of Sept. 2018 places the District 56 total valuation of property at $56,243,623. Of that, state law allows the district to borrow up to 8% for additions/repairs to its physical plant (schools, headquarters, out-buildings, athletics). If district voters pass a bond referendum, that does not count against the district’s “8% money”.
For 2019-20, the District 56 tax millage was 167.50 operating and 80 debt service for a 247.50 total. In 2013-14, the total was 249.50 mils (debt service was 2 mils higher then than it is now).
As things stand now, District 56 can pay off all its debt by 2033.