ST. GEORGE –The Washington County School District Board of Education issued bonds to pay for three new schools in the Washington Fields area and proposed new rules for booster clubs at a regular meeting Tuesday.
The new schools have been in the planning stages and are needed for a growing population of school-age children; the district currently serves nearly 30,000 students and more are expected in the next few years.
The new schools – Majestic Fields Elementary, Crimson Middle School and Crimson High School – will be completed within the next three years.
Majestic Fields Elementary is already under construction at approximately 3090 South Washington Fields Road and is expected to be open for classes in the fall of 2017. A construction bid of $8,649,000 was awarded to Bud Mahas Construction Inc. at a school board meeting in February.
Crimson Middle School is also under construction at approximately 4200 South Medallion Drive. The total cost is expected to be $25.2 million and the school is expected to be open for the start of the school year in 2018.
Crimson High School will also be located at approximately 4200 South Medallion Drive, next to the middle school.
A bid for site preparation was awarded at Tuesday’s meeting to Interstate Rock Products for $2,353,526; work is expected to begin this month and take about 90 days. A bid for construction of the school has not yet been awarded.
The school is expected to be completed in time for classes in the fall of 2019.
All three schools will be paid for by bonds authorized by voters in 2013, when a $185 million bond for school construction was passed in a special bond election.
At the meeting, the school board authorized the issuing of $35 million in new bonds to pay for the new schools. In addition, $24.5 million in bonds issued in 2007 at interest rates around 4.5 percent will be refunded in order to refinance the bonds at between 1.5 and 2 percent, district business administrator Brent Bills said. This is expected to save the district a projected $400,000 a year.
Rather than bonding for the entire $185 million when it was authorized by voters in 2013, the district bonds each year as needed, Bills said.
“If we were to bond for all the money up front, it would just be sitting there in the bank and right now the interest that you get from a bank is just so far below what we have to pay, that we’d end up losing money,” Bills said.
A proposed new policy governing booster clubs that was presented at the meeting will bring the school district into compliance with new state rules and make changes recommended by a school district audit, district business administrator Brent Bills said.
“The legislature, when they changed the law, it was pretty significant,” board member Craig Seegmiller said.
The new policy was passed in the last legislative session and went into effect in May; the school board was made aware of it in June, Seegmiller said.
Previously any student, parent or teacher group that partnered with the district to raise funds for school activities were exempt from laws requiring a charitable solicitation permit.
“They’ve changed that, we’re still exempt, but they are not,” Bills said. School board member David Stirland said the changes will offer greater transparency and tighter accountability.
“The state office, as we went through the last audit, they really recommended that we run all the money through the school,” Bills said, adding this would allow the district to know where the money is going.
The six-month audit began in July 2015 and was completed in January or February 2016, Bills said.
Bills plans to meet with coaches, parents and booster clubs at each high school to get feedback on the new policy and plans to present his findings at the next school board meeting set for Nov. 8.
“The principals and coaches will notify all the booster clubs and then we’ll sit down and have a conversation about it,” Bills said. The new policy will affect booster clubs for high school sports and cheerleading and drill teams.
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