School board prepping $24M bond issue

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MEEKER — Meeker Re-1 School District Board members Tuesday fine-tuned the language in the November bond issue that would raise $24 million to build a new elementary school.
Board members last month approved building a new elementary school to be closer to Meeker High School and Barone Middle School. Voters in November must approve two measures related to raising funds through issuance of bonds and raising property taxes in order to build the new school.
The questions revolved around two primary issues: Repayment of the bonds might be as much as $45 million, and bond maturity will be 21 years, instead of 20 or 25 years. Board Vice President Ed Coryell said the final payout amount seemed very high. Board Member Jerry Oldland found mistakes in the wording and questioned why the bonds were set for 21 years instead of a more common 20 years.
Superintendent Dan Evig phoned the attorney hired as a consultant, and the two bond issues were revised. The board is expected to approve the two bond measures at its special meeting Thursday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.
Evig also discussed a new format for looking at student performance based on test scores. The new system, called Colorado District and School Diagnostic Growth Summary, “provides a way for educators to understand how much growth a student made from one CSAP administration (testing) to the next,” according to the Colorado Department of Education.
CSAP is the Colorado Student Assessment Program, the annual skills and knowledge testing for grades 3-10. CSAP tests proficiency in math, reading and writing. CSAP also tests science knowledge for students in grades 5, 8 and 10.
CSAP scores are used by the state and federal governments to evaluate the school systems. Low-scoring districts can be placed on watch lists for eventual takeover by the state. The federal government uses the testing to evaluate whether schools are meeting the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind law. Meeker students, while scoring somewhat lower in some areas, still generally compare well with the rest of the state.
“We’re not looking at CSAP like we used to,” Evig said.
Evig noted that the 2008 scores were not quite as good as 2007 for most grades and all three subjects, but scores are still decent compared to other Colorado students.
Elementary school Principal Jason Hightower told board members the two modular classrooms are almost ready. He hopes to have final occupancy approval for classes on Monday.
Hightower also thanked the state department of education, White River Electric Association, staff and others for helping get the two rooms ready.
He added that there are some contingency plans for temporary classroom space if the approvals don’t come through this week.