Meeker BOE honors committee; moves ahead with renovations

Meeker Ballot Issue 4A Citizens' Campaign Committee members were recognized and thanked by the Meeker Board of Education at Monday's school board meeting: Trina Zagar-Brown, Jessica Browning, Jewell Kindler, Iris Franklin, JH Sheridan, Joe Nieslanik, Dan (with Sam) Conrado and Robert Amick. Zagar-Brown and Nieslanik were committee co-chairs. REED KELLEY PHOTO

MEEKER | Following post-Thanksgiving greetings and the Pledge of Allegiance led by board member Kevin Amack Nov. 26, the Meeker Board of Education celebrated, recognized and thanked the citizen 4A Bond Issue Campaign Committee which successfully led the effort to get the 4A bond question approved by Meeker district voters. The bond issue question, which allows the financing for significant renovations of the Meeker High School building and construction of a new district bus garage, passed voter muster as of Election Day, Nov. 6, 1,213 (64 percent) YES votes to 677 NO votes (36 percent).
Monday night, the board heard at some length from Todd Snidow, a representative of its bonding consultants, the nationwide firm of George K. Baum and Company. Snidow, out of the Denver office, is an executive vice-president for Baum in the Colorado Public Finance Group. He has served a wide variety of tax-exempt bond issuers in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming during his 20-year career.
Snidow counseled the board that they need not be in a hurry to issue their bonds pursuant to the successful election, and he advised offering the bonds in at least two major pieces, the first to cover the major portion ($28 million) of their project upfront, and the second, up to nearly $12 million, after they find out if the district receives financial help from the state in the form of a Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant from the Colorado Department of Education or assistance through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. The Amendment 4A bond approval measure authorized increasing debt up to $39.7 million.
Snidow further discussed the procedures going forward to issuing the district’s bonds including, most specifically, an approximately 80 page document required to inform potential bond investors of the school district’s regional economy and likelihood of financial stability. In addition, Snidow suggested getting at least two bond rating agency evaluations.
In his report to the BOE, District Superintendent Chris Selle noted that overall school enrollment is at nearly 750 students, up from 737 a year ago and 743 two years ago. He stated that there is likely to be legislation in the 2019 legislative session to fund full-day kindergarten and that he expects the coalition behind statewide ballot question Amendment 73 for increased school funding would continue to push for better funding. That measure, initiated by several school district superintendents across the state, and other pro-education advocates, failed statewide on a 46 percent YES to 54 percent NO vote.
Regarding moving ahead on the high school renovation and bus garage project, Selle recommended that the board approve a conditional notice to proceed with the architectural and engineering services firm of TreanorHL of Denver which earned the highest scores and offered the best fee in presentations to the district’s selection committee. The district and this firm will be working with a local Design Advisory Group, the membership of which is to be announced by Selle this week and which is scheduled to meet Dec. 3,10, 17 and 18. The work of this group will be intense, according to Selle, as design planning is imminent now with the school bonds going to sale. The other finalists interviewed for the architectural work were The Blythe Group and CannonDesign.
In closing, the board unanimously approved a 20-page resolution with a seven page appendix authorizing, via George K. Baum and Company of Denver, as the underwriter, the initial offering of $28 million in Meeker RE-1 School District bonds.
In other business, the BOE approved the hiring of classified substitutes Michelle Olsen and Janet Kendall; and Barone Middle School girls basketball coaches Samantha Wilson, eighth grade, Paulette Hanks, seventh grade, and Kasyn Chintala, assistant.
On a policy issue, the board approved the inclusion of nicotine products (vaping) in the school’s tobacco-free policy on second reading. This change will be considered on third and final reading at the Dec. 11 regular board meeting.
Discussion about district mental health preparedness and suicide prevention policy revolved around whether or not a more detailed, board-approved suicide risk assessment protocol should be pursued, or whether reliance on available, suitably-trained personnel, with rapid referral to Pioneers Medical Center expertise, was sufficient. For the time being, the latter approach prevailed.

By Reed Kelley | reed@ht1885.com

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