In a special meeting teleconference lasting less than five minutes, Snyder Independent School District trustees approved a four-item consent agenda before adjourning.
The four items, including approval of an amended school calendar for 2020-2021, approval of the purchase of 1,300 Chromebook computers for $495,000, the hiring of Government Capital Securities Corporation as financial advisor to the district and approval of the issuance of bond series 2020 by the district, were unanimously approved by a single vote during the meeting.
The school board amended the coming year’s instructional calendar to include six additional days of classes, and reduce the number of professional development days from 13 to seven.
According to Superintendent Dr. Eddie Bland, having 180 days of instruction during the year opens up a source of funding for summer school.
“Originally our calendar had 174 days of student instruction and 13 days of professional development. The amended calendar has 180 days of student instruction and seven days of professional development,” Bland said. “By TEA guidelines and regulations if you have 180 days of student instruction, that makes the district eligible for funding that will fully pay for up to an additional 30 days in the summer of half-day instruction. The funding is for grades K-5.”
Bland said the district is exploring options on how to utilize that additional funding.
“We may not take all 30 days, but it’ll be fully funded,” he said.
The new Chromebooks will be used to replace some of the district’s aging complement of student electronics.
“It was getting close to being time for us to refresh our devices in our lower grades,” Bland said. “We had iPads. Generally that would’ve probably been a two-year cycle, but because of COVID and the possibility of closure in the fall, this will give us the inventory if we have to do a lot of virtual learning to ensure that all of our students have the necessary devices. That’s pretty much K-5. We usually estimate that we run about 200 students per grade, and then just a little bit of an overage, if we have to do replacements.”
Bland said the situation for fall classes is still up in the air.
“Right now, we’ve been told we’re going to have face-to-face, and we had started this order process before we were told that,” he said. “But still, we don’t know. Anything could happen, because we’ve had a recent outbreak. So at this point we’re preparing for face-to-face, but we’re also planning for if we have to go to some sort of hybrid model, like if they put a limit on the number of students that can be in a classroom they may not all be able to be here every day. If that’s the case, then they’re definitely going to need personal devices to do virtual learning when they get home.”
Bland said, if virtual learning is required, expectations will be significantly higher than they were in the first wave of home learning this past spring.
The final two agenda items were related, Bland said.
“That’s just a refinancing of existing debt,” he said. “Rates are pretty close to historic lows right now. There’s two issues that are being refinanced. The term, as far as the length of the two bonds, are staying exactly the same. We’re just refinancing at a lower interest rate, and it ends up saving somewhere between $110,000 and $130,000 a year.”
Bland said the bonds were originally issued for $8.985 million in 2013 and $9.039 million in 2016. The bonds mature in 2026 and 2034 respectively. $5.80 million of the 2013 bond, and $8.66 million of the 2016 bond, are being refinanced. The maturity dates will not change due to the refinance.
The bonds being refinanced were used to pay for the construction of Snyder Primary School and Snyder Junior High School, Bland said.
The final item involved issuance, sale and delivery of Snyder ISD unlimited tax refunding bonds, Series 2020. Those bonds are the re-issue to refinance the debt in the previous item, Bland said.