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Fulton approves refunding bonds, examines attendance and grad policies

The Fulton School District Board of Education's meeting Wednesday saved the district money and further examined how to deal with the district's lagging graduation rate.

To kick the meeting off, the Board approved a bid to save $693,788 in future interest expense by way of an $8.35 million bond refunding at the Board of Education's regular meeting Wednesday.

The school district had agreed in October's meeting to refund bonds in order to save funds on interest expenses, and bids were put out to interested banks and financial organizations. The lowest bidder for the bonds was Country Club Bank of Kansas City, with an average interest rate of 0.937 percent.

That amount compares favorably with the 3 percent rate the district had been paying on the Series 2008 Bonds, and the 2.86 percent for the Series 2009 Bonds.

District Superintendent Jacque Cowherd said that the interest rates occurred as a result of the current bond market and were going to be good for the district's long-term plans. The financing plan was developed by the district’s financial advisor, St. Louis-based L. J. Hart and Company, to take advantage of more favorable interest rates currently available while still preserving flexibility for the district to present additional building programs in the future.

The increase in funds could allow the district to add other bond issues without increasing their tax levy in addition to funding other projects, but Cowherd said it would be best to pay off current bond issues early.

“We haven't had those discussions here because assessed valuations dropped couple years. When more normal economy returns and growth that would trigger discussions about payoff early.”

Following the unanimous approval to accept the lowest bid, the board heard from the “Graduation Matters” program, a task group made up of staff at various grade levels in the district to examine causes of and solutions to the district's graduation rate.

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