Merced City School District board approves selling $12 million in Measure M bonds

08/14/2014 4:50 PM

08/14/2014 4:56 PM

Merced City School District Board of Education members have approved selling up to $12 million in general obligation bonds as the process to modernize 17 campuses gains steam.

Board members were unanimous earlier this week in giving the go-ahead to market some of the $60 million in Measure M bonds approved by voters in June. Bond and state money will be pooled as part of a $130 million program to add safety features, modern technology and amenities to local campuses over the next decade and beyond.

The improvement program follows the development of the district’s Long Range Facilities Master Plan. The top two needs identified in a process lasting more than a year will be addressed during the construction process.

Greg Spicer, the district’s associate superintendent for administrative services, said district representatives will meet with investment firms early next month in San Francisco to get a bond rate established. He said he is hoping local officials can convince the Moody’s bonding firm that the school district is a good investment.

Spicer said he hopes the bond sale can be completed by the end of October. He expects the district to sell a chunk of the bonds about every three years for the next 12 to 15 years.

Board member Gene Stamm hopes the district will receive an AA rating from the bonding firm.

“I don’t see why we wouldn’t,” Stamm said. “We’re a good district and we pay our bills on time.”

Also, Superintendent RoseMary Parga Duran said the board unanimously adopted its updated priorities for the 2014-15 school year and the top focus remains on student achievement.

Under 21st century student achievement, goals are to increase baseline scores on local district progress assessments. Professional learning community goals call for teacher mastery of state Common Core instructional practices and the accompanying Smarter Balance assessment tests, along with more instructional technology training.

The goal of maintaining 97 percent student average daily attendance remains in force, along with efforts to improve employee wellness and bolster student positive behavior systems and anti-bullying programs.

Fiscal goals include maintaining a balanced budget and positive certification from the state. Facility goals include district and site safety plans. Communication and technology goals include weekly district updates, keeping the district’s web page current, developing pathways for community input and improving access to technology.

Board members also hiked substitute teachers’ pay from $90 to $110 a day to attract more substitutes. Pay for temporary teachers was last raised in November 2005 from $85 to $90 a day.

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