Austin school board approves sale of refunding bonds

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 24, 2002

The Austin school board approved the request to award the sale of $8,970,000 in refunding bonds.

John Nefstad, of Springstead Inc., the district's independent financial advisor, gave a brief overview of the status of the bonds.

Because of the economy, he said he was a little nervous about the bonds, but the recent improvement in the stock market has helped.

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The bonds were first issued June 1, 1991 to provide funding for the school building bonds.

Nefstad said the school did not have to sell as many bonds, which results in savings for the taxpayer.

The district also is slightly low in terms of debt burden, which puts the district two notches above where an outstate school of its size should be in terms of debt.

"There are districts that have wonderful, wonderful buildings, but are struggling with debt," Nefstad said.

Lori Volz, the district's business services director, agreed the school is in good shape.

"Overall, we could see we made great progress financially," Volz said.

In other business:

n The school board met in closed session to discuss the expulsion of three students. When the session was opened, the board members approved the expulsion of all three for the rest of the school year. The names of the students were not released.

Expulsions are determined on a individual basis. The students will be appointed a tutor and will be allowed to apply for enrollment again in the fall, said Superintendent Corrine Johnson. Johnson said she could not say why the students were expelled, nor what grades they were in.

n Sheila Berger, educational services director, updated the board on how many students are being home-schooled in the district. Seventeen fewer than last year are being home schooled, for a total of 42.

Berger said the age group with the greatest decrease in home school were in sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

Some board members asked what criteria parents have to follow to educate their children, but Berger said the standards are fairly loose. If a parent has a teaching license or a four-year degree, they do not need to verify anything with the district.

If they do not have a degree, parents need to submit quarterly report cards and show what tests are being given to their children. If the parents do not meet these requirements, they are investigated by the state, Berger said.

Berger said the district keeps a file on each home-schooled student. She also clarified that home-schooled students do not receive an Austin public school diploma.

Cari Quam can be reached at 434-2235 or by e-mail at