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JJHS construction to start in January

The Jackson R-2 School Board is moving forward on improvements to the junior high, with financial plans discussed at the October board meeting and Nov. 26 set as the day the project will go out for bid.

Superintendent John Link said architects and district administration have met with almost all of the junior high teachers affected by the changes, and he hopes plans will be finalized by Nov. 12. That would give the district enough time to have meetings with potential contractors before they submitted bids.

The school board would then review the bids and give the final approval of the project at a special board meeting the first week in December. Link said the contractor would have December to get ready at the site, and would hopefully start construction in January.

“There is some concern about starting in January and getting it done by August,” Link said. “A lot depends on the weather. If the weather isn’t good, we may have to look into some overtime this summer to get back on schedule.”

Link said the biggest construction push would be over the summer, regardless of the weather, with the building staying clear by moving the junior high’s summer school to the high school.

Joe Kinder from the financial advisor George K. Baum & Company spoke to the board during the Oct. 9 meeting about financing the junior high improvement through a lease purchase that would also include restructuring some of the district’s current debt.

Kinder advised that the district should issue a $12.1 million lease-purchase that would cover the $5.6 million junior high improvements and allow the district to spread some of its remaining debt from the 2014 high school improvement project over the next 20 years.

The district will also continue to pay an additional $5.7 million of the 2014 debt, that will not be a part of the refinancing.

“We actually have a nice opportunity,” Kinder said to the board. “It’s not going to save money overall, but it is going to lower your average annual payments going forward. For the next six fiscal years, you’ll actually see a $700,000 reduction in what you had anticipated from a payment perspective.”

The currently structured payments are over $1.9 million each year, and it would be lowered to $1.2 million with Kinder’s plan. He added that interest rates are currently low at three percent, and the district would probably end up with a lower overall interest rate through future refinancing.

“There’s not a single deal that you have done in the last 30 to 40 years that you haven’t refunded for savings at some point in the future, so you will probably see something better than three percent,” Kinder said to the board.

Attorney Erick Creach from Gilmore Bell, also attended the meeting to see that the board approved a resolution that authorized Kinder and Creach to start the drafting process for the lease purchase. Creach added that this didn’t bind the district to approving this plan in the future. The board unanimously approved the resolution, and Kinder said they would be able to present the final version of the financial plan before the end of the year.

In other action

• The Jackson High School graduation date was set as May 15, 2020, by the school board.

The event will start at 7 p.m. at the Show-Me Center at Southeast Missouri State University. Link said the high school has already booked the Show-Me Center for the event.

• The board received pest control bids from Pest Free, Elite Pest Control and Bug Zero.

The district was not currently on contract with any pest control company, but usually used Pest Free and occasionally used Elite Pest Control if after-hour bed bug services were needed. Last year the district spent around $11,000 on pest control services.

Pest Free’s bid was $7,198, Elite Pest Control’s bid was $12,200 and Bug Zero’s bid was $22,000. After receiving the bids, the board decided to continue its current pest control strategy of usually using Pest Free and not be under contract with any one pest control company.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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