School board confident in funding

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 26, 2009

Confident that the district is in good shape financially, Vicksburg Warren School District trustees board was not panicking about possible funding delays should the Mississippi State Legislature and Gov. Haley Barbour not settle their disputes and approve a budget for the fiscal year, which begins Wednesday.

“I give up on speculating what’s going to happen,” said Superintendent James Price. “We are in as fine a shape as we can be. We’ll wait for them to finish their business and then do what we need to do.”

But trustees did not wait for their regular scheduled meeting to authorize a $3 million construction bond application Price requested. That business was conducted Wednesday at a special meeting called that morning by Jerry Boland, board president.

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“Time was of the essence,” Boland said, explaining his decision to call the special meeting, which was posted an hour before the 10:30 a.m. meeting. Four of the five members of the board were present Wednesday, he said, the lone exception being Joe Loviza, the representative of District 4.

District officials wanted to get the application in as soon as possible, Boland said, adding that it was the only business transacted at the special meeting.

Price said Tuesday that he received notification of the bonds’ availability and planned to get application materials ready for the board this week. “It’s first come, first served, and I want to be first,” he said.

The application was for $3 million — $1.5 million each to build additions to Warrenton Elementary School and to Vicksburg Junior High School.

If approved, the funds will be borrowed interest-free for an as-yet unspecified period of time.

“The plan is to continue our efforts to eliminate temporary classrooms and replace them with brick and mortar,” Price told the board Thursday. Past projects have been done on a pay-as-you-go basis, he said, but interest-free borrowing allows the district to retain funds while earning interest on deposits.

At the regular board meeting Thursday, the board approved as part of its “consent agenda” — items voted on in a block, with no discussion — a resolution “adopting each of the assurances as outlined in the Qualified School Construction Bond authority application.”

Among the assurances are that 100 percent of the proceeds will be used within three years for construction, rehabilitation or repair of a public school facility, that reporting requirements to the Mississippi Department of Education will be followed and that the principal will be paid back “over a time period determined by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.”

Price said that would probably be 10 to 15 years. The debt could be paid off “without any difficulty” over that time period, he said.

“We are going to have to put money into those mobile units one way or another,” he told the board. The trailers were not designed or intended to be permanent, he said, and have cost thousands in reflooring, reroofing, repairing air conditioning units and other ongoing expenses.


Contact Pamela Hitchins at