Grand Island Public Schools taxpayers will save $7.36 million over the next 20 years thanks to a decision by the Board of Education at its July meeting to refinance some of its bonds.
At its meeting Thursday evening, the GIPS board heard an update on the bonds from Paul Grieger, managing director with DA Davidson and Co. of Omaha, on the results of the refinancing, which he described as “a very successful sale.”
“We put together a refinancing plan and the timing could not have been any better,” Grieger said. “We were showing the district a savings of about $2.5 million. The final savings is right at $4.6 million. So we are really pleased with the results of the sale to say the least. As part of this, we looked at some of the other refinancing. I am happy to say that over the last 10 years of board action, you saved the taxpayers over $7 million.”
Board President Bonnie Hinkle said the board is grateful for the savings. Board member Kelly Enck thanked GIPS Chief Financial Officer Virgil Harden for looking at the district’s best interests and bringing the opportunity to refinance the bonds to the board.
How exactly does the decision to refinance save taxpayers money?
In an interview with The Independent, Harden said the refinancing of the bonds are similar to when a homeowner refinances their home and the payment goes down. Due to less of a payment, there is money saved every month, but this is on a “much larger scale.”
“In essence, what happens is our amount of levy we have to levy for in the debt payments — both principal and interest — is going down because we refinanced those interest rates,” he said. “Over the next 20 years, we will have less each year to levy. That is money that is not going out the door for the local taxpayer, that otherwise would have.
Harden added, “If we would have done nothing, that extra $4.6 million would have to have been collected. It is cost avoidance, so we never have to ask for that money back and it is spread out over 20 years. The yearly impact is probably less than a penny in the valuation, but that is still big money.”
At its meeting Thursday night, the board also voted to approve a memorandum of understanding with Big Apple Bagels for bagels, coffee and cream cheese to be sold at the GIPS Workforce Preparatory Academy, 644 S. Locust St. Associate Superintendent Robin Dexter said the academy is housed in a former coffee shop and the district’s dream has always been to make it a coffee shop again.
Dexter said Shellie Pointer, franchise owner of Big Apple Bagels, has employed a number of students from the Workforce Development Academy and wanted to help GIPS realize this dream and expand her business.
“Shellie Pointer reached out to our coordinator at the Workforce Preparatory Academy and asked if there was any way they could have a somewhat coffee shop at that location,” she said. “Her stipulation is that they be allowed to put a temporary sign — like a canvas sign — that says Big Apple Bagels. It would advertise that there is a satellite Big Apple Bagels location at that site.”
Dexter said the CEO of Big Apple Bagels toured the Workforce Preparatory Academy, is “so on board” with the idea and wants to collaborate with the advertising and marketing for the location.
The goal is to do a soft opening to GIPS staff before having a grand opening in October.
For the record
In other action, the GIPS board:
— Swore in new board member Julie Gortemaker. Gortemaker was appointed to fill the remaining term of former board member Roger Harms who resigned.
— Voted to approve a memorandum of understanding with Wayne State College for dual enrollment education courses at the Wyandotte Learning Center at a cost of $49 a credit hour, which amounts to $147 per class.
— Voted 7-0-2, with Gortemaker and board member Erika Wolfe abstaining, to approve a memorandum of understanding with Central Community College for dual enrollment courses. Wolfe abstained due to being employed with CCC.
— Voted to approve a proposal to have Project Lead the Way as the curriculum provider for the engineering pathway within the Academy of Engineering and Technology.