The regularly scheduled Duncan School Board of Education meeting brought about updates on the Bond Oversight Committee as well as virtual instruction thus far for the district while also touching briefly on additional bond information.
Dr. Tom Deighan first updated the board on the Bond Oversight Committee (BOC), which had its first meeting this month. Two board members, Eric Davis and Greg Neal, also attended the meeting.
The Bond Oversight Committee was instituted before the bond election by the board to help with overseeing money and expenditures.
“These are men and women from the community who are elected by the board and nominated or appointed by the board and what their job is, is to come through after the board has spent the money and as we plan to spend money,” Deighan said. “Just to have them there to review every penny, every expenditure and every category to ensure that we are following what not only we promised the community, in the ballot, but also what we communicated to the community.”
They haven’t spent any money yet, but Deighan said they did set up the process and the expectations of the next six months.
Eric Davis said he’s thankful to all the volunteers who meet together.
“It is important — we want to be accountable to the public and the public needs to know how we spend the money,” Davis said. “They are the ones who voted for it … to keep investing in the schools and they needed to have that oversight. We appreciate that help.”
Following the BOC discussion, Assistant Superintendent Merry Stone addressed the board and gave updates regarding virtual instruction, including enrollment numbers, those who returned to the classroom, students with no progress or attendance and athletic participation.
“As of (Oct. 13), we have 641 full time virtual students,” Stone said. “We’ve had 151 of the students through the process that have come back — that have applied, started virtually and have come back.”
Some families chose to bring their students back to the school program before the deadline while others continued to remain virtual.
Although some students haven’t been as successful with the virtual program, it’s a small number compared to how many students are in the public school system. The small number is attributed to the virtual coaches put in place to make family connections.
“We have 25 students in the district in our virtual program that we would consider non-attendee, non-progress, so those are students that at the end of this nine weeks we are not seeing the work they need to be putting out,” Stone said. “They’re not logging in like they should be for attendance, so after this nine weeks we’ll be looking at either transitioning, hopefully, those kids back to school where they’ll have some better … engagement with learning or we’ll talk to those families about what options they need to help ensure that their students are learning and logging in.”
Deighan addressed how much the district has learned about going virtual.
“One thing we look for, coming of next year — the funding … the issues, how this is going to affect public school is going to be dramatic if we don’t come up with an option or a solution,” Deighan said. “I do believe we’ve proven even in the short time, we can do better.”
Deighan said he’d like to figure out a way to come together as school districts.
“With the board’s permission, I’d like to formally start pursuing forming a statewide consortium that would be sponsored by the Duncan Public Schools,” Deighan said. “There’s an application process, we’d have to apply to the State Department of Education. Other school districts have to join, it has to form its own separate board, but before I do something like that, I want the board to realize what we would be doing, but it’s an opportunity for the public schools to come together and pull their resources.”
The board agreed to see where this opportunity process leads.
The district went three full weeks with no COVID-19 quarantine reports to address, according to Deighan.
“Then last Friday hit,” Deighan said. “We had several since then. It’s been interesting, it was a great three weeks. We still, to my knowledge from the State Department of Health … have not been alerted of any single quarantine (where) people have actually contracted COVID as a result.”
With seating charts and masks in place, the district is working to keep students safe.
“What we’re doing with the masks, the seating charts, those are working for the State Department of Health officials,” Deighan said. “I do believe that right now, public school is the safest place for a child to be in the City of Duncan.”
The district moved to just notifying those in direct contact as to not overwhelm people.
“The only people who get contacted directly with the information are those who are actually identified by the health department,” Deighan said.
Bond discussions came next. Kerr3 President James Kerr and staff, including Valerie Hill, Jim Quade and Baganida Sukma, presented past projects and the early stages of plans for Duncan Public Schools projects.
Kerr3 toured facilities and met with staff throughout the day on Sept. 23 and obtained a lot of feedback to help with possible upcoming projects.
Quade touched on the process and expectations from the planning, design and construction perspective.
“75 to 80% of our clients are schools,” Quade said. “We really engage with schools as we can share our expertise with you on some of the things we learned over the years.”
The team discussed Halliburton Stadium as part of the projects, as well as the softball and tennis parking areas, the high school auditorium renovation and storm shelter installments.
Then, Nate Ellis of Public Finance Law presented to the board regarding the sale of bonds and issuance of the new bond passed this year.
Ellis said bids were received for the purchase of a $2,525,000 combined purpose general obligation bond and it was recommended to go with the lowest bidder, complying with the notice of sale and instruction to bidders or to reject all of the bids.
The board accepted the bid and agreed to award The Baker Group LP of Oklahoma City for the bid for the purchase, with an interest rate 0.665925% for a two-year bond.
“It’s a great rate,” Ellis said. “It means there’s a very minimal impact in the way of interest that adds to the principle levy.”
The board then approved a resolution providing for the issuance of the combined purpose general obligation bonds for the amount of $2,525,000.
“The effective rate is a little bit lower,” Ellis said.
Ellis said there is a little bit of a premium in connection on this, making the issuance of the bond 0.7%.
Finally, finishing off bond discussions, the board also approved a resolution for a lease purchase agreement in regards to financing improvements to school buildings and facilities.
“It authorizes a lease purchase agreement of a rate not to exceed 3.5%,” Ellis said.
In other news the board approved:
• Adopting a 2021 election resolution for board member position one. The candidacy for Seat 1 will open with filing at the Stephens County Election Board between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7 through Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020.
The next regular meeting of the Board of Education will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. at the Administration Building at 1706 W. Spruce in Duncan.