Without discussion, the Sun Prairie School Board on Sept. 13 authorized Taxable Temporary Borrowing In not to exceed $13. 4 million as well as issuance of Tax and Revenue Anticipation Promissory Notes; and participation in the PMA Levy and Aid Anticipation Notes Program.
A memo to the board from Sun Prairie Area School District Director of Business & Finance Phil Frei explained the background behind the proposal. This year’s short-term borrowing resolution is for up to $13.4 million to meet cash flow needs. he wrote, but the anticipated need is less than this amount.
“Cash flow needs occur because the district issues payroll and accounts payable payments on a regular month-to-month basis,” Frei wrote in the memo, “but the main sources of revenue (taxes and state aid) are not received equally over 12 months.”
Wisconsin State Statute 67.12 allows school districts to issue short-term tax and revenue anticipation notes for cash flow purposes, but historically, Frei added, the SPASD has borrowed for cash flow needs each year.
The SPASD’s exact short-term borrowing — not to exceed $13.4 million — is still being calculated through analysis of the SPASD cash flow position and verified with the PMA Levy and Aid Anticipation Notes Program.
Other participating districts in the PMA program are Brown Deer, Chippewa Falls, Cudahy, Evansville, Glendale-River Hills, Merril, Milton, Monona Grove, Oshkosh, Saint Francis, Shorewood, and Williams Bay. The total amount of collective borrowing will be approximately $67.5 million, according to Frei.
Similar to other years the SPASD has participated, while the district is part of the “pool” for issuance, the SPASD will not be liable for another district’s notes.
“The primary advantage of participating in this program is that it provides districts with timely access to capital markets at the lowest borrowing costs,” Frei wrote in his memo (get more information from the screen cast available with the online version of this story at sunprairiestar.com and in the Videos section of the Star’s website).
By partnering with other districts, the issuance will have an “MIG-1 rating,” which is the Moody’s rating that designates short-term obligations as the highest rating and thus the best quality. This pooled approach is facilitated by PMA. A qualified legal opinion for this borrowing is conducted by Quarles & Brady, S.C. of Milwaukee. By approving the resolution, the board allows PMA to negotiate on the pooled short-term borrowing needs, and specifically up to $13.4 million for the SPASD.
During the last five years, the amount of short-term borrowing needed by SPASD has decreased from a high of $17 million to a low of $11.4 million.
In terms of cost to the district, Frei wrote the anticipated interest cost to short-term borrow is $100,000- $200,000. But by increasing cash reserves, Frei added, the SPASD has been able to save $400,000 in short-term borrowing interest costs over three years.
Policy revision first reading OK’d on 6-1 vote
The board’s first reading of a policy not updated since 2009 received a 6-1 approval vote from the board, with Board Treasurer Dave Hoekstra voting against.
The board approved first reading revisions to Board Policy BDDH, Public Participation at Board Meetings and Board Policy BDDK, Board Member Participation in Meetings Via Technology and Virtual Board Meetings in Emergency Situations.
But it was Policy BDDH — not updated since 2009 — that Hoekstra opposed.
That’s because changes to the board’s policy governing Public Participation in Board meetings were made including: changes to terminology to match current terms, changes to how public comments can be submitted, and changes to who can make public comments.
Board Governance Officer Tom Weber said he liked the proposed changes, which include a limitation of individuals who can speak at meetings. Those who may speak must have a direct connection to the district as residents, caregivers, parents, staff, students, etc.
The revised policy also requires written comments to be submitted to the district by 4 p.m. the day of the meeting, and for those wishing to speak to turn in their comment cards before the start of the board meeting. “We do offer a lot of opportunity for our community to provide input to us,” Weber pointed out.
But Hoekstra said he didn’t to limit those who could speak to just those turning in comment cards at the beginning of the meeting.
Board Clerk Carol Sue Albright said that sometimes, those in the audience may have been interested in another topic, but may want to speak on another one after the meeting begins. She asked about individuals who may not know they have a question until the topic is discussed.
Weber replied that most agenda items now have screen casts available through Board Docs in the school board portion of the sunprairieschools.org website. Many of the screen casts may be viewed in advance of the meeting.
Weber, a former board president, said he believed it was a good tool for speakers to fill out the comment cards. He said a meeting chair needs to have an idea of how much time to allow for discussion as well as how many people want to speak.
Board Vice President Bryn Horton pointed out the board — when it had the public in the board chambers at the SPASD Office at 501 S. Bird St. — would routinely allow comments from the public when an item was being considered by the board.
While Hoekstra said he agreed it would be better procedurally for individuals to file comment cards, he added, “I don’t like to limit public comment.”
If there is another topic that comes up that they want to comment on, Hoekstra said, the public should be able to do so.
“I would vote in favor if it [the comment card] is preferably signed up ahead of time,” Hoekstra said. But if the policy does not, he said he would vote against it.
“It wouldn’t change my vote either direction,” Weber told the board, referring to a possible change.
But the board left the policy the way it was, and it passed on a 7-1 vote.
The board spent most of the meeting discussing department and school scorecards.
In addition to a districtwide scorecard, the board reviewed scorecards from Facilities & Grounds; Human Resources; Teaching, earning & Equity; Sun Prairie Community Schools and these SPASD schools: Northside Elementary, Prairie View Middle School and Sun Prairie High School.
District resident Tracy Frank thanked the staff at Prairie View for its equity work.
“I look forward to seeing how this work is impactful for students by hearing their outcomes when they report back on this work. The following goals seem like very important work (italics added to show quote from the plan):
“We believe all students can and will learn IF we develop the capacity of staff to deliberately design, analyze, and implement the educational experience intentionally for our Black and Brown students…
“AND all staff identify, utilize resources and tools, and challenge patterns of white supremacy culture and inequality in our thoughts, actions, school and curriculum.
“AND all staff increase intentional student and parent voice to be accountable to the communities we serve. Thank you for the opportunity to learn about this through the board meeting notes,” Frank concluded in her public comment letter to the board.
“To me this is one of the most important meetings of the year,” remarked Sun Prairie School Board President Steve Schroeder, who said he appreciated the opportunity to spend time with each of the areas that had scorecards.
Screencasts for each of the scorecards and the scorecard PDFs are available at https://go.boarddocs.com/wi/spasd/Board.nsf/Public# while the scorecards themselves are available with the online version of this story at sunprairiestar.com. Readers can watch the discussion of the scorecards during the board telecast of the meeting in the KSUN Video On Demand section online at ksun.tv.