SD2 board gets green light to spend bond money

2010-12-13T20:54:00Z 2010-12-14T00:20:27Z SD2 board gets green light to spend bond money

By ROB ROGERS

Of The Gazette Staff

The Billings Gazette
December 13, 2010 8:54 pm  • 

The Billings School District 2 board has two federal bonds burning a $12 million hole in its pocket.

The board's financial adviser, D.A Davidson & Co., successfully sold $12 million worth of bonds for the district over the last month. On Monday night, the board approved three resolutions to finalize the sales. The money, approved by voters in September, will be used over the next three years on 23 projects to improve and update district facilities.

Of the total borrowed, district taxpayers will have to pay back between 21 percent and 25 percent, or roughly $5 million.

“It's really an incredible deal for our local taxpayers,” said board Chairwoman Barbara Bryan.

Over the next few months, Superintendent Keith Beeman will present the board with a plan that will show in what order the 23 projects will be completed and on what timeline they will happen.

Bridget Eckstrom of D.A. Davidson & Co., told trustees that five local banks bought some of the bonds; four of those banks bought $1 million and more in bonds.

“We wanted to express our thanks to the voters who approved these bonds and the local banks that invested in them,” Bryan said.

During the meeting, Beeman spoke to trustees about the budget proposal released by the governor's office last month.

“The governor's proposal does not harm this school district, nor does it help it,” he said.

Over the next two years, much of the money proposed to fund education statewide by the governor's office will simply backfill money that the governor stripped from state education funding two years ago, Beeman said.

Projecting the effect of the governor's budget over the next two years, Beeman showed trustees what the district could expect by 2013.

“These are working budget assumptions,” he said. “If the assumptions change, the numbers change.”

Under the current proposal, the district would have a $3.5 million hole in its 2012/2013 elementary budget and a $3 million hole in its 2012/2013 high school budget.

Also at the meeting, trustees heard an update on the district's efforts to curb its energy consumption to save money. Over the last 15 years, the district's electricity consumption has dropped by almost half and its gas consumption by nearly two-thirds.

For its efforts, the district received at Environmental Excellence Award from Energy Education, Inc.

The total energy saved by the district has been equivalent to taking 864 cars off the road and saved the district hundreds of thousands of dollars, said facilities director Rich Whitney.

Trustee Kathy Aragon announced that she will have the evaluation procedure for Beeman's job performance finished for the January board meeting.

Once that's in place, she said, the board could begin on Beeman's evaluation.

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.

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