Yuma School District-1 continues to move forward on a potential $32 million facilities project.

Half of the project will be covered by a BEST Grant, but only if the voters approve a $16 million bone issue in the November election. Yuma-1’s project was near the top of the list when BEST Grants were awarded in the late spring, but it is all contingent upon the bond issue.

The Yuma-1 Board of Education approved Project One as the owner’s representative at its July meeting, with Yuma native son Chad Rayl, serving as Project One’s point man.

It took more steps during its regular monthly meeting Monday night at the District Office in downtown Yuma. All five board members — President Dan Ross, and Kim Langley, Thomas Holtorf, Lindsey Galles and Duane Brown — were in attendance.

The board unanimously approved a resolution to refinance the district’s current bonds.

Brown, the former bonding attorney in charge of the refinancing effort, explained that it would minimize the overall impact to property owners if the new bond is approved in November.

The district worked with RBC Capital Markets, particularly Yuma County native Jon Moellenberg, in soliciting bids from banks. Brown said bids were received from Academy Bank, Key Bank and Capital One, also noting interest rates are trending downward, which is good news for the district and its property tax payers.

RBC recommended going with Key Bank, which proposed an interest rate of 2.91 percent, more than a percentage point lower than the 4 percent the district currently is paying on its bonds from its last facility project.

In regards to the mill levy, used to assess property taxes, the refinancing will decrease it by 3.6 mills

The rate will be locked in and closed on September 4. The refinance, including fees, will be for approximately $2.675 million.

“I’m very comfortable where we are with this,” Brown said, “and it reflects what we want to do.”

Overall, if the approximately $16 million bond issue is passed in November, the mill levy for the bond redemption fund will be 13.12 mills instead of 17 mills, thanks to the refinancing.

Holtorf asked if the district has new revised property tax impact figures. Brown said those should be available within about one week.

The district already has the owner’s representative on board, now the district is working with Project One toward getting request for qualifications (RFQs) for design/build teams. The request has been posted, and the deadline for proposals is September 11.

The same committee that selected an owner’s representative — Superintendent Dianna Chrisman, Brown, Ross and community member Dan Seedorf — will narrow the field to three, at which point those three will be asked to submit request for proposals (RFPs). The committee, along with Rayl providing input and BEST Grant regional representative Jay Hoskinson sitting in, will then select a finalist.

The hope is to bring a recommendation for the design/build firm to the board at its October meeting.

Chrisman said during Monday’s meeting that community members have been asking why the district is doing so much in advance before even knowing the outcome of the bond election.

She said the owner’s representative was hired first so the district had assistance in getting “everything right from the start.” The district also wants to have a design/build firm in place so it is in position to immediately move forward if the bond issue does pass in November.

Speaking of which, Chrisman reported there likely will be a special board meeting next week to approve the ballot question, which must be submitted to the Yuma County Clerk & Recorder by the end of the month.

Jacque and Trent Monk have agreed to create a video highlighting the need for the facility upgrade. The video was shown during Monday’s meeting, after which Chrisman said there is some final tweaks to be made prior to it being released to the public. A version with a Spanish-language voiceover also will be done.

A one-page printed document outlining the need for the facility project also was presented to the board. Langley noted its needs an explanatory headline, as well as some other changes, in order to catch the public’s attention, particularly those who know nothing about the proposed project and bond issue.

Also, in case someone has noticed the survey crews working around the district’s grounds, it is part of the best requirement to do a site survey as well as an environmental survey, and other items. Those requirements are covered by the BEST Grant.

NJC impact

Chrisman told the board that a change being made by Northeastern Junior College will have a positive impact on the Yuma-1 budget.

Yuma-1 high school students take college classes through NJC, mostly paid for by the school district, with reimbursement from the state. For example, even with the reimbursement, Yuma-1 paid about $25,000 for students to take college courses, and in the past has had to cap how many classes students can take due to the costs.

However, that no longer is an issue as NJC is going to provide 100-percent reimbursement, and students will be responsible only for the fees. Chrisman said the district gave NJC a big thank you.

More meeting

Monday’s board of education meeting was fairly quick, lasting less than one hour, but the Consent Agenda covered several topics.

Marylu Smith-Dischner, a YHS alum, recently resigned as the business teacher and FBLA sponsor. However, the district was able to make a quick hire in the form of another YHS alum in Annsley (Brophy) Ferrari as the business teacher.

Other hirings approved Monday night included Chandra Dix as the choir teacher for grades 4-8, Crystal Schwartz as grades K-5 Gifted and Talented Coordinator, as well as Justin Coughlin as the eighth-grade girls basketball coach, Mollie Haruf as the seventh-grade girls basketball coach, and Chad Rayl as the junior high assistant girls basketball coach. Another resignation accepted by the board was from Michael Collier as a custodian.

Chrisman said nearly all positions within the district were filled with the start of school on August 21, except for some custodial and para positions still open.

The student handbook and code of conduct for Morris Elementary School was approved by the board, along with the Yuma Middle School Activities Handbook, the YMS Parent/Student Handbook, and the Yuma High School Activities Handbook.

Only one fuel bid was submitted to the district for the 2019-20 school year. The board approved the bid from CRVS for 14 cents under the posted pump price.

The Yuma FFA’s trip to Fort Collins for an officers’ retreat earlier this month was ratified, and a trip request by the ESL Department to a conference in November was approved.

The following donations also were accepted: $200 from Lanny and Louise Hendrickson for the Coach and Marilyn Smith Wrestling Scholarship; $200 from Highline Electric for Yuma FFA, and; $300 from the Yuma Community Cupboard to YHS baseball.