Sun Prairie Area School District logo (2018)

The Sun Prairie School Board is scheduled to act July 13 on two resolutions relating to financing for the 2019 Sun Prairie Area School District referendum.

A Monday, June 22 presentation by PMA Securities and R.W. Baird outlined the financing process and next steps for the SPASD. A total of $90M was borrowed in August 2019 in phase one borrowing, with the most recent proposal referred to as phase two borrowing. The final phase may be pursued in 2021.

The district is phasing borrowings to balance minimizing overall interest costs while also guarding against interest rate exposure. If current rates hold, a financing plan will be brought back to the board for consideration in July. A historical interest rate comparison presented to the board showed a historical low point of 1.19 percent and a current level of 1.43 percent for interest rates. Rates have dropped from 5.5 percent in June of 2000 to their current level of 1.43 percent, according to a chart presented to the board.

At its July 13 meeting, the Sun Prairie School Board is scheduled to review and act on an award resolution for bond anticipation notes, and a parameters resolution for general obligation refunding bonds. During the month of July, PMA and Baird representatives will work with the SPASD administration to prepare an offering document and conduct a bond rating call.

In late July or early August, long-term interest rates for the refunding bonds will be locked in, according to PMA and Baird.

Exception to retirement

notification timeline approved

Acting on a recommendation from SPASD Director of Human Resources Chris Sadler, the board approved a one-time exception for the 2020-21 school year to extend the timeline for all retirement eligible employees to provide retirement notification to July 10, 2020 without penalty.

The exception allows employees an extra window of time to retire without penalty due to the uncertainty of the structure of instructional delivery in the fall of 2020 because to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also provides enough time for SPASD to hire a replacement for the position being vacated due to retirement.

Support Staff Compensation Framework approved

Acting on a recommendation from Sadler, the board approved the Support Staff and Hourly Administrative Support Staff Compensation Framework.

Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, the base level of the pay structure is annually increased for each specific role by 50% of the Cost of Living increase. This allows the SPASD to stay competitive at base level pay.

The general framework is tied to the Consumer Price Index/Cost of Living). The framework allows for an annual Cost of Living increase for all support staff/hourly administrative support staff.

A memo to the board from Sadler indicated the committee that developed the framework will continue to explore the possibility of objective output-based adjustments similar in theory to the professional educator continuing education structure to supplement the Cost of Living adjustments.

Still awaiting state action on budget

A presentation on the 2020-21 SPASD Budget indicated that the district is still awaiting action from the State Legislature before it makes any final recommendations on the district budget to the school board. The new SPASD budget takes effect on July 1 for the 2020-21 school year.

Academies proceeding

A total of 53 students are enrolled at two academies within Sun Prairie High School Applied Career Capstone for Emerging Leaders (ACCEL) program, according to a report to the board. The Business Academy has 33 students enrolled and the Global Food and Sustainability Academy has 20 students enrolled.

Both academies launch this fall. SPASD staff have been studying innovative learning opportunities during the past six years in an effort to continuously improve the district’s instructional offerings to students.

Among the next steps for the academies are to finalize hiring an Academy Coordinator position. The half-time position will serve as a liaison/coordinator between ACCEL Academy staff and ACCEL business partners by promoting career-based learning experiences and internships for high school students that are aligned to their career plans by establishing sustainable business partnerships, communicating options to students and families, and monitoring success of such placements through an active communication network between teachers, students, families, mentors, and other district personnel.

“I just want to express my excitement about this work,” Assistant Superintendent of Teaching Learning and Equity Stephanie Leonard-Witte told the board.

Possible expansion of academy offerings at SPHS include engineering, art, computer science, future educators, biomedical science and health careers. The district is planning to offer academies at both Sun Prairie East and West high schools beginning in 2022.

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