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Is 2012 Bond on Rockwood School District Horizon?

Any potential bond language to be on an April 3 ballot must be certified by Jan. 24. Board of education directors need to decide about the bond issue at the Jan. 19 meeting.

Presentations from three departments at Rockwood's board of education meeting Thursday night led to board directors again discussing the possibility of placing a bond on the April 3 ballot.

"For the Rockwood District, we do rely on a bond to be issued every two years, said Dennis Griffith, Rockwood's assistant superintendent/director of administrative services in a presentation Thursday evening. "We can argue about it, but that is where we are. Whether things change in that avenue going down the road, I don’t know."

Griffith summarized points from a Rockwood bond issue committee meeting held Jan. 3. Another bond issue committee meeting is scheduled for Jan. 17. "We'll be here on Jan. 19 at the next board of education meeting, seeing if we’re going to move forward," said Griffith.

Rockwood officials reminded that the actual bond language has to state a specific dollar amount, so that likely will be the hard-core topic at the Jan. 19 meeting. Jan. 24 is the deadline for certifying the ballot language for a April ballot. Shirley Broz, Rockwood's district financial officer, said the bond attorney already had been contacted.

Griffith said about 50 people attended the bond issue committee meeting earlier this month, with "a number of schools represented."

"These are open meetings; if anyone wants to join, you sign up and you’re on the committee," said Griffith. For a list of current committee members and their respective schools, click here.

At that meeting, he said the district's finances and technology parameters were covered. For a look at the agenda, click here. He mentioned that he and his department staffers are getting quite a few questions via email.

One component that gained consensus at the bond issue committee meeting was adding back into the district's projected needs a half million dollars for technology, Griffith said. "We went through every one of the listed items. The large majority of attendees were in favor of this package of needs, and that we should proceed and present them to you at the board meeting."

Here's a list of the proposed 2012 bond issue package.

Bond-Specific Considerations

How school districts' cashflows are used often confuses people. The bulk of Rockwood School District's operating budget, namely 72.5 percent, goes toward instructing students, according to district representatives. The rest of the district's operating budget is broken down as follows:

CATEGORY

PERCENTAGE
OF OPERATING BUDGET

 
11.6 Building Maintenance and Utilities  6.9 School Support  4.6 Transportation  4.4 Central Administration

Conversely, bond-related finances go toward capital improvements.

Broz said in a presentation Thursday night assumptions about a district bond issue are:

  • Model used currently is for an issue every two years.
  • Those new bond issues must be able to be repaid with the current levy of 68 cents.
  • Debt Service levy will not be fully eliminated until the current debt is repaid (2027).
  • The district's facilities and bond issue committee members will work in tandem with the finance committee to find a balance between the project list and the amount of new debt able to be repaid within the current Debt Service levy.
  • Projects will be reviewed to identify operating cost increases or savings.
D January 10, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Lindbergh and Parkway, with comparative student performance (ACT 24, MAP ranks) and sociodemographics have much lower tax base (3.1 and 3.6)- and small tax populations) than Rockwood (4.3 tax base).. Rockwood's been drunk on funds too long and needs to learn fiscal restraint. In the above article, what's the difference or defintions of "school support" and "central admin"? And the practice of paying teachers upfront, in June each year the full summer salary robs the coffers for school start-up in the fall. Such a policy is not student or school focused.
Lisa Hunt January 10, 2012 at 04:05 PM
In reference to construction bond money there seems to be soil remediation issues at most of the schools. There are continual work order changes for this very scenario that are continually brought to the board for approval. It seems logical if you had soil remidiation issues on work that was done a year ago, you might run into those very same problems again. Couldn't there be a worst case scenario cost for remediation included into each of the bids? I'd also like to know if some of the bids that come in higher that are not accepted include possible soil remediation charges.
Julie Brown Patton (Editor) January 10, 2012 at 07:41 PM
A comment posted at 11:33 a.m. today in response to this article unfortunately had to be removed, due to it being offered from an "Anonymous" reader. As previously stated on this Patch site, anonymous remarks violate the Patch conditions to which every reader agrees when they sign up for Patch services. To read the exact policy, please see the "Terms of Use" available at the bottom of the Patch Home page. I believe the gist of the removed remarks were valid, and I encourage whoever posted them to sign in under your real name and leave them, or a summary of them, again. Patch is committed to transparency and is a valuable community resource through which residents can express all sorts of viewpoints. Clearly, everyone will not always agree on the same points, but as long as perspectives are shared in civil, constructive ways, we all learn more about our community and the issues most important to us all. I will share that the essence of the remarks were about this question: What is the meaning of Fiscal Responsibility?
D. Howard January 10, 2012 at 08:22 PM
@D - you may want to take a look at overall assessed valuations. You'll notice Parkway has a base of about $4.5 billion as compared to Rockwood's $3.5 billion. Parkway has more commercial property that is taxed at a higher percentage rate, providing more revenue. Also check per pupil expenditures. You'll notice Rockwood spends about $9,450 as compared to Parkway at $11,640 and Lindbergh at $9,650.
D. Howard January 10, 2012 at 09:26 PM
@D's post/comment above - regarding teachers being paid at the beginning of summer for salary due during the summer. Please explain how that impacts school start up in August? The teacher salaries are budgeted and designated for that purpose as opposed to other expenses for school start up. Therefore payment timing during summer would not be an issue. Are you thinking it causes a cash flow problem?
K Griffin January 11, 2012 at 03:52 AM
I am not surprised by the proposed bond issue. Glenn Construction, as the district's seemingly permanent construction manager (15+ years), has a vested interest in keeping the bond issues flowing. Glenn Construction depends on money from Rockwood (taxpayers) since 98% of its business is Rockwood. How many projects on the bond issue has Glenn suggested? How many are actually required or absolutely necessary? Would an outside independent engineering firm draw similar conclusions? The life cycles referenced for some items are often an average number provided by the industry. More often than not, the life of the item extends several years beyond the average and with Rockwood's on-going maintenance of its buildings and equipment, the life cycles probably are on the upper end of industry averages. So, rather than adhere to some program that says carpet, HVAC, roofing, etc. has hit the end of it's life cycle, a condition assessment should be performed to determine as-is conditions. As for the district's overall declining student population -- why are we adding on? Are other schools seeing declines? What about redistricting small areas to neighboring schools with room? There are a lot of "shoulds" and "upgrades" in the bond issue. How many are "musts" or "necessary replacements"? In the interest of regaining taxpayer trust, the district should (must) pare down their wish list.
Eileen Tyrrell January 11, 2012 at 06:03 AM
Fiscal means financial or pertaining to the treasury or revenue parts of the government. Responsibility is having a legal or moral obligation to or being accountable for something or someone. Read more: What Is the Meaning of Fiscal Responsibility? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_6331987_meaning-fiscal-responsibility_.html#ixzz1j7vWfQox
Eileen Tyrrell January 11, 2012 at 06:12 AM
Examples of Fiscal Responsibility: 1. Not using bond issues every 2 years to take care of maintenance and technology. Both items should be built into the budget. 2. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, over the years, for consultants to "disseminate educational issues" when we have plenty of competent teachers and staff on the payroll to do the same job. 3. Staffing a top-heavy Central Office while cutting teachers, guidance counselors and classess. Summary of Central Service Staff as listed on current Rockwood School District Organizational Chart: Superintendent - 1; Associate Superintendent - 1; Assistant Superintendents -2; Executive Directors - 3; Chief Officers - 3; Secretaries/Admin Asst. - 33; Directors - 12; Supervisors - 26; Coordinators - 19; Facilitators - 18; Specialists - 29; Analysts - 8; Managers - 14; Purchasing Agents/Assistants - 3; Processors- 4; Leads - 1; Technicians - 5; Clerks - 8; Social Workers - 3; Coach/Instructor - 2
Julie Brown Patton (Editor) January 11, 2012 at 07:40 PM
D: Your question about the difference between "school support" and "central administration" sections of the Rockwood budget was a thoughtful one. I emailed RSD Chief Financial Officer Shirley Broz Tuesday for clarification, and received her response just now: "The school support is at the school site level and the central administration is districtwide. The principals' salary and benefits would be charged to school (building) support. Central administration would include such costs as the superintendent’s salary and benefits, copier leases or professional fees, i.e. auditor." Now we know for sure. Thanks for asking.
R. Woodson January 11, 2012 at 08:45 PM
To Ms. Tyrrell - your comment above that Rockwood is "Staffing a top-heavy Central Office" I am all for efficient management. I am also a proponent of using data to support assertions or recommendations. In looking at the Dept of Elem & Secondary Ed site, it appears Rockwood has a relatively high ratio for administrators-to-students at 1:270; higher than comparably performing districts such as Parkway, Clayton, Ladue, etc.. and the data indicates Rockwood's average administrators' salaries are lower than all of those other districts too. So bottom line, the data appears to suggest Rockwood has relatively low paid administrators, a relatively low number of administrators given the student enrollment (the admin-to-student ratio), and is achieving top drawer results in MO. So a question: What data do you have to support your claim of Rockwood being a top heavy organization?
Eileen Tyrrell January 13, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Parent Poll: Potential Bond Issue The Rockwood Board of Education is considering placing a no tax increase bond issue on the April 3, 2012 ballot. A committee of parents, patrons and staff is discussing a potential project list. You can read about the committee and review the draft bond issue package on the Rockwood website. http://www.rockwood.k12.mo.us/news/Pages/01112012ParentPoll.aspx
Julie Brown Patton (Editor) January 13, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Eileen Tyrrell: This article already provided a link to that project list, and more Patch coverage will be exploring some of the specific proposed projects. Highlighting the poll is appreciated.

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