Webb City R-7 to pay off $11M bond issue at average 3.79% 

The Webb City R-7 School Board voted Tuesday to authorize the issuance of its voter-approved $11 million in bonds at an average interest rate of 3.79%.

Brent Blevins, of Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., informed the board that his firm had gone to market earlier in the day and felt fortunate to find buyers of the bonds before interest rates get higher.

In fact, he said Webb City is the first district since the April election that his firm represents that has gone to market. He added that he knows of some districts that have had to sell a smaller amount than approved because interest rates are higher than expected when their proposals were placed on ballots.

Blevins credited Webb City’s A+ rating and high fund balances as the reason Stifel’s sales force was able to present the issue as a “strong, secure investment.”

When the sale closes on June 1, the district will receive $11,534,000 to start drawing interest. The first bond payment is due April 2023. The last is due in 2042. However, the district will be able to refinance after eight years.

The bond issue will primarily be used to expand Webb City High School. Incite Design, the architectural firm, and Crossland Construction, the project manager, are finalizing plans for that and a turf-covered practice field.

Board members agreed with a plan to site the practice field closer to the softball field and new tennis courts instead of the old soccer field because of drainage problems there. A sidewalk will be constructed so the middle school students can also use it.

Work continues at the tennis courts, where a parking lot is close to being paved and lights will be installed.

Speaking of lights, it was recommended that the lights at Cardinal Stadium be replaced because bulbs for the existing ones are discontinued. 

Kevin Cooper, assistant superintendent of business operations, said he asked two firms for bids, and only Bill’s Electric responded. The bid to install new light fixtures on the existing poles was $294,000. 

However, the board decided to go ahead and replace the poles, too, at the bid price of $485,000. The poles on the home side will be placed behind the grandstand. There have been complaints about the poles partially obscuring the view of the field.

Board member Lisa Robinson pointed out that the stadium is used for many more purposes than football.

Also approved was covering two more playgrounds with turf for its endurance and wheel-chair accessibility. The playgrounds to be covered this summer are at the Webster and Bess Truman primary centers. Midwest Synthetic Turf Professionals submitted accepted bids totaling $335,500.

It was reported that demolition of the interior of the former veterans hall, which will be the new student services building, is now complete and that plumbing work is in progress.

A closed session was held to discuss real estate, but there was no vote.

In other action, the board:

• Approved two new teaching positions to help struggling students at the middle school. Federal funds will pay most of the salaries.

• Heard Brenten Byrd, assistant superintendent of of instructional services, tell about planning for the increased number of professional development days next year, with an emphasis on collaboration.

• Discussed whether it would be better to participate in the resumption of state sponsored career ladder for experienced teachers or use the required match to give everyone a raise. The minimum wage for Missouri teachers – on the rise from $25,000 to $38,000 – is edging closer to Webb City’s base pay of $41,500.

• Approved a new policy to help safeguard the district’s computer system from being hacked.

• Approved the annual purchase of new Chromebook computers. The purchase of 850 Lenovo versions will cost $250,750. They will be distributed to incoming fifth and ninth graders. The ninth graders’ old computers and the ones being turned in by seniors as they graduate will now be used by elementary students. Application has made for 100% reimbursement.

• Recognized high-achieving students:

– Missouri Scholars 100 honorable mentions Baylor Dickinson and Connor Peterson.

– Joplin Globe All Area Academic Team members Baylor Dickinson, Connor Peterson and Zoe Still.

– National speech and debate qualifiers, who will be competing in June, Chloe Ingle, McKenzie Jones and Evan Garrison.

– Speech and debate all-Americans Evan Garrison, Chloe Ingle, McKenzie Jones and Lilly Shea.

– State speech and debate champions Fin Brown for prose, and the Radio Theatre team.

– A group of state choir honorees (see story on Neighborhood page).

• Accepted faculty resignations from:

– Sarah Gerstner, fourth grade, Eugene Field.

– Ariel Snyder, fifth grade, middle school.

– Breanna Faircloth, first grade, Webster.

– Jennifer Watkins, special education, high school.

– Adam Cohen, business, high school.

• Approved contract for:

– Sarah Chambers, fifth grade, middle school.

– Elizabeth Steward, sixth grade, middle school.

– Izabella Larson, fifth grade, middle school.

– Natasha Jackson, fifth grade, middle school.

– Alison Johnson, kindergarten, Madge T. James Center.

– Cathy West, math, high school.

– Libbey Randles, special education, high school.

– Amanda Kent, business, high school.

– Sara Reynolds, social studies, high school.

– Flave Darnell, principal, high school.

– Elizabeth Beaver, third grade, Mark Twain.

– Autumn Pounds, special education, Heritage Preschool.

– Kim Christensen, preschool teacher, Heritage Preschool.

– Bethany Walles, first grade, Webster Primary.

– Tyler Osterman, band, junior high.

– Riley Shade, fourth grade, Eugene Field.

– Kayla Henderson, district occupational therapist.

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