The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Grants Could Aid In Funding Of School District Upgrade

Bob Huff of Huff Architectural Group presented information from the bid opening in the La Harpe library on February 10, 2011 during a special meeting called by the La Harpe Community School District #347 board of education.

Huff cited sources of possible additional funds for the project through the applied-for energy grant, a maintenance grant, and the school construction grant which, if awarded, could assist the board in accomplishing all of the work that is necessary to upgrade the district facilities.

Huff will continue to bring updated recommendations reflecting the work which may be done with the established amount of bonds to be sold. Specific bids will begin to be accepted at the next meeting.

The board authorized the sale of 2.5 million dollars in bonds for the Health Life Safety project, utilizing 2.165 million in HLS bonds and 335,000 in working cash bonds. This project will bring the current 1958 portion of the main building into compliance with current regulations and will meet the district's portion of a future school construction grant program for which La Harpe District remains in the '05 funding year.

This means the future plan to connect the main building and Johnson building under one roof with a new addition would be paid for once SCG funds have been allocated.

In light of rising interests rates and expenses, putting off this necessary work until later would not save the district, but would instead cost much more in the long run , so phase one of the plan will be carried out this spring and summer.

The board discussed designating a portion of the Johnson Estate revenue to abate taxes each year, using reserved reorganization incentive funds for part of this project, and their continuing desire to keep the tax rate about the same level it had been with the past bond issue which has been paid off.

Dr. Campbell spoke of revenue from a .01 county sales tax already being utilized for facilities by several districts in Illinois and instituted statewide in Iowa for use in their schools.

Dr. Campbell has obtained an estimate of $44,000 annually (based on the 2007 data) which La Harpe District could have received had a .01 county sales tax had been in place in both Hancock and Henderson counties.

One of the benefits of this type of revenue is that all consumers of the taxed products contribute not just property owners.

Another benefit is that approximately 30% of a county's goods are purchased by consumers who reside outside the county. Dr. Campbell pointed out that if school boards representing just 51% of the students in a county agree to bring the issue to ballot, and it passes, all the school districts in that county would begin annually receiving additional revenue to build and maintain their facilities.

The La Harpe Board will keep its communities updated through news releases like this one as this important renovation project continues.

The Board of Education of La Harpe Community School District #347 held its special meeting February 14, 2011 in the school district library with the following present:

Board Members: President Cindy Wear, Vice President Dan Horton, Pam Campbell, Rex Huston, Mark Irish, Darren Spangler, and Deanna Stambaugh.

Also present were Superintendent Jo Campbell, board secretary Jeanne Clayton, and Bob Huff of Huff Architectural Group.