FARMINGTON -- The Farmington School Board passed a resolution to refinance school bonds Feb. 28 during its meeting.
The board voted 4-0 to pass a bond resolution with board member Josh Petree absent. Out of five companies, Raymond James and Associates offered the lowest bid, about 2.12%, according to Kevin Faught, senior vice president of public finance for Stephens Inc., the bond counsel.
Faught said the reduction in interest rates from the issuance of the refunding bonds will result in a net savings of $117,269. Of that amount, $86,725 in savings will be realized in 2024, Faught said.
According to a chart provided by Faught, interest rates have risen from 2.05% on Dec. 2 to 2.54% on Feb. 17.
Faught said interest rates were lower on Feb. 28 due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but he was not sure the School District would have received a better deal.
"I'm not sure if it would have made a difference because the market is really bouncing around right now," Faught said.
Regardless of the situation in Ukraine, none of the fees will make a dent in the savings, Faught said.
School Board President Travis Warren said he was not surprised by the raising of the rates.
"We knew that rates were going up a little bit," Warren said. "It's still a better rate than what we had."
School Board members also heard the curriculum report from Joe McClung, assistant superintendent. According to the report, the state of Arkansas has provided additional guidance for pre-Advanced Placement courses.
The state will provide pre-AP free to school districts for the next three years, but it is unclear what the cost will be beyond that, the report states.
Given some of the constraints related to this curriculum and the timing of the decision from the state level, the School District is currently planning on opting out of pre-AP courses for the 2022-2023 school year, according to McClung's report. This decision does not affect Advanced Placement courses at the high school, the report states.
In order to ensure compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Arkansas Department of Education is making modifications to how special education instruction is delivered, the report states.
Beginning the next year, students are no longer allowed to graduate with their individualized education program serving as their graduation plan, the report states. This will be the first modification, the report states.
The second modification is that core instruction will have to be provided by a teacher who is certified in that licensure area, the report states.
Under this modification, teachers can no longer only be certified in special education, the report states. McClung gave the board an example that a teacher will need to be certified in the subject they are teaching, such as English.
There is currently not a timeline for when this change will take effect and the Education Department is working on licensure pathways for teachers to become dual-certified.
McClung also cleared up misconceptions that the changes will result in the elimination of resource classrooms and special education teachers. McClung said both are not factual.
The board accepted the resignation of several certified employees and other long-time classified employees (effective at the end of the school year): teachers Pamela House (high school), Laurie Smith (junior high), Elizabeth Law (Folsom), Jennifer Hopper (Folsom), Julie Limberg (Folsom), Donna Norsworthy (high school counselor), Kristin Cotroneo (assistant band director), Jodi Hendricks (network administrator and E-rate technology coordinator), Jim Hendricks (transportation supervisor) and Kevin Mills (maintenance).
Other personnel changes approved by the board will be to move Susan Carnahan from building level secretary to administrative secretary beginning 2022-2023 school year and Teighlor Carney from middle school classroom teacher to FMS Project Lead the Way instructor, beginning 2022-2023 school year.