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IPCISD takes loan for roofs, hvac, turfed fields

by Dolores Hamilton
Iowa Park schools will now be able to replace roofs, HVAC systems, and place all weather turf on the softball and baseball fields thanks to a $3.1-million loan at one percent interest approved at a called meeting of the school board on Friday.
At their regular meeting on Thursday, school trustees discussed priority needs, determined in their new five-year strategic plan, that could be fit within the amount financed by the loan. These include roofing needs at Kidwell, middle school and Bradford, artificial turf for the softball and baseball fields, HVAC systems, parking lots, and additional safety needs at each campus.
Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) are loans for up to $3-million at one percent interest, payable for up to 15 years. These are federal funds that school districts apply for through the state (Texas Education Agency). The Iowa Park school district has already been approved by the state.
“The loan is an opportunity for a school district to get a very low interest rate at one percent that would allow us to tackle some of these bigger projects in a quicker time frame,” said Superintendent Steve Moody. Loan payments would be included in the maintenance and operations budget, and won’t require a raise in taxes.
In other business on Thursday the board approved the proposed District of Innovation Plan.
The 84th Texas Legislature passed HB 1842 allowing eligible Texas school districts to be designated as Districts of Innovation. Districts of Innovation are able to gain local control and obtain exemptions from certain operations of the Texas Education Code (TEC). The local innovation plan will allow the board of trustees and district staff to make decisions based on the needs of the students, teachers, parents and community members.
The local innovation plan will remain in effect for five years, and includes the following:
School start date; teacher certification; and probationary contracts.
The school calendar for 2017-2018 was approved. “The calendar basically mirrors the calendars we have been operating on the last three or four years,” Moody said. School will start on Aug. 21 and graduation will be on May 26. Homecoming is scheduled for Sept. 29.
Jonathan Clubb told the board that a 20-year-old school bus they intended to surplus next year had blown an engine for the second time and repairs would cost $10,000. He said they have had a few more breakdowns and mileage is high on some of the other buses.
Clubb said he would like to purchase a new bus now so they would have it for next year, and the trustees gave their approval. Moody said they would also keep a bus in the budget to buy next year.
After Jodi Schlaud gave a presentation on the District Technology Plan, the board approved the purchase of Chromebooks for Bradford Elementary students.
Schlalud also reported on Instructional Materials Allotment Certification and it was approved by the trustees.
In other business the trustees conducted the first reading of Update 107, reviewed strategic planning and goal setting, and approved a Bank Depository contract extension with First Bank for two years.
During his report, Moody gave the trustees information on spring break and board training, and said enrollment stands at 1833 students. At the beginning of the meeting he introduced Lucy Hatch, who is the Iowa Park Rotary Club’s Student of the Month for February.
No action was taken following a closed meeting to consult with an attorney regarding pending litigation, and to accept resignations and employ personnel.