Cassville approved for DESE's QZAB program

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

District may get up to $2.1 million in interest-free bonds if issue passes

The Cassville R-4 School District was recently approved for the Qualified Zone Academy Bonds program, which may allow the school to get up to $2.1 million in interest-free bonds if its $4 million bond issue is passed on April 8.

Richard Asbill, Cassville superintendent, said the program will mean great savings for the district, and for taxpayers, if the bond issue is passed.

"The maximum we can get is $2.1 million [in interest-free bonds], but the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will make a final decision after April 8," he said. "The potential savings to the tax-payers makes this a good opportunity. DESE has $7,338,000 it can allocate, so we think $2.1 million is a realistic target number that we can get."

The bonds, which may only be used for renovations, repairs and improvements to existing facilities, require business partners, which the district has obtained in Security, Freedom and Commerce banks in Cassville.

"It's hard to get the letters of support, and the fact that we have three is incredible," Asbill said.

Jon Horner, school board member and president of Security Bank, said the three banks already support the district in a number of ways that qualify them as business partners for the program.

"What they are looking for is either monetary donations or in-kind donations, whether it's volunteerism or things of that nature," he said. "All the banks in the community are really active in supporting the schools, and each bank has sports, programs or extracurricular activities they adopt."

Examples of support include funding free "Cattitude" t-shirts for all students and staff of the intermediate school, as well as sponsoring sports teams and various school clubs.

Horner said although he competes with Commerce and Freedom banks, rallying around the school district is something they can all agree on.

"When I am on the board, I am a board member and not a banker, and the fact is that banks have been a tremendous support to the district," he said. "We compete for customers, but we all unanimously support the district because, as bankers, we know a strong school system bodes well for the local community and for the economy."

Other bankers the district is working with include Mike McCracken, president of Commerce Bank, and Stan Kelley, president of Freedom Bank.

Projects for which the district plans to use the interest-free bonds include: technology issues, electrical issues, roofing and heating and air issues. However, the bonds could not be used for project like security system upgrades, which does not match the program's specifications.

Asbill said an estimated dollar amount the district, and tax payers, could save is unattainable at this time for multiple reasons. The bond issue on the April 8 ballot must be passed before any projects may go forward; interest rates on any bonds the district could receive may change between now and when they are secured; and after a 7-10-year period, the district may have an opportunity to refinance any bonds with interest rates, taking the potential savings and refinance fees into account.

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