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Hope School Board Reduces Bond Costs

By Donna Potter, 04/18/17 4:23 PM

HOPE – The Hope Public Schools Board took advantage of changes in market conditions and voted unanimously Monday night to restructure its interest rate on existing bonded debt.

Bond advisor Jason Holsclaw, representing Stephen’s Inc., of Little Rock, told the Board that new savings over the life of the 2012 series bonds, issued as part of the financing of the expansion of the Beeyl Henry Elementary School building, will be about $485,000 because of declining interest rates.

Holsclaw said the board refinanced the series 2012 bonds as part of a $6 million revenue bond package in January to recognize an initial shift interest rates.

“Tonight, we will do the exact same thing,” he said.

The change will not affect the amortization period for the bonds, or the funds available, but will allow the board to recoup savings from initial costs up front within five years, Holsclaw said.

“If it is where you can’t cut some, at least $100,000 or five percent, the state will not allow us to move forward,” he said.

Trustee Denny Dickinson asked what sort of deadline was involved to efficiently cut the district’s rate. Holsclaw said four to six weeks is the typical window.

He said the district will no longer be restricted to its use of the savings.

“The legislature just passed a law that no longer restricts the savings to exclusively academic expenditures; so, you can use it however you want,” Holsclaw said.

The anticipated new rate should save the district as much as one-half an interest point.

Also Monday night, Superintendent Bobby Hart said latest academics reports from district campuses show improvements in both academics and discipline.

“One of the continuing themes on all of our campuses is a decline in discipline referrals,” Hart said.

He said quarterly reports from the Hope Academy of Public Service showed zero failures and few discipline referrals, while academic growth was noticeable at Clinton Primary School. Attendance rates at Beryl Henry Elementary School were at 97 percent for the quarter.

“We’re also very proud of the work they’ve done on English Language Arts at Yerger Middle School,” he said.

Hart said changes at Hope High School related to school safety and student/teacher relationships are also encouraging.

“I think we’re starting to make some inroads into climate and culture,” he said.

Hart noted a number of points of pride from the current quarter, including:

  • The 58th year for the Hope High School FFA Rodeo. He congratulated FFA sponsors Michael Henegan and Christina Smith and the FFA chapter.
  • Recognition of Karen Ivers, dyslexia coordinator for the district, as Hope/Hempstead County Chamber Of Commerce Educator of the Year.
  • Statewide recognition of Child Nutrition Services Director Deanna Gilbert as the Arkansas Department of Education’s Arkansas School Food Service Director of the Year; and as winner of the USDA Silver Award for the district’s summer nutrition program,
  • Recognition by the ADE of CPS third grade teacher Cynthia Murphy as the model teacher for its Teach Again initiative video series.

Hart also advised the board of a new initiative to engage with the families of home schooled children resulting from a meeting with parents of home schooled students.

“We had a really nice conversation,” he said.

Hart said he sees genuine potential to learn from those families how to provide resources and virtual instruction for their children through the district.

“We’re really close on having a virtual academy,” Hart said.

He said he anticipates meeting with other parents to learn more. 
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