Mid-Prairie sells bonds at 2.9 percent
WELLMAN — Bidding for $10 million Mid-Prairie General Obligation bonds was “very tight” among three bidders, Matthew R. Gillaspie, senior vice president with Piper Jaffray, told the Mid-Prairie Board of Education Monday. Winning bid was Robert W. Baird & Company of Milwaukee, Wis. with a 2.949429 “true” interest rate only a $24,000 difference from the second highest rate of 2.960744 from Sun Trust Robinson Humphrey of Nashville, Tenn. Third bidder was Hutchinson, Shockey, Erley & Company of Chicago with 3.0760. Piper Jaffray of Des Moines handled the sale for Mid-Prairie. Gillaspie explained that the bids reflect Mid-Prairie’s A+ Standard & Poor’s rating.
As usual, the interest rate for debt repayment will be lower, at 2 percent, for the first six years, go to 3 percent for five years; 3.250 percent for a year and conclude at 3.5 percent for the last three. Although the period could have been 20 years, Mid-Prairie will retire the debt in 16, a move that will save the district nearly $1 million, Gillaspie noted.
Additionally, the district’s successful bond issue was for $640,000 more than $10 million and the district could later use its remaining authority. However, the total estimated project cost includes a possible $208,667 surplus.
The board approved the sale and at its July 14 meeting will adopt all the formal paperwork required. Bond proceeds will come to the district’s bank on Aug. 1.
The district expects to advertise for construction bids by the end of the year.
Most of the meeting dealt with a review of changes to the student/parent handbooks and the district’s annual report. For the former, it was generally items of clarification. The latter shows consistent academic growth among the students; however there were a number of goals not reached, leading Superintendent Mark Schneider to suggestion that “we may have set the bar too high,” He said that the staff will review the goals, possibly with an eye to modifying them.
The report does show, though, that Mid-Prairie High School’s standing as the top one in the state for preparing students for a career or college does not start at the 9th grade, but with the first day a student starts in the district.
In other business, the board:
• held a second reading of board policy regarding debt management;
• tabled the superintendent evaluation and contract action to the July 14 meeting to allow notice of the session; and
• received a prepared statement from Jean Hussey who, in 2007 “started Mid-Prairie’s Chinese Program from nothing” and in March “I lost my job as a foreign language associate overnight” because “The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE) said my work was an ethical violation by the school district, even though it was exactly what I was recruited to do by the U.S. government.”
She had been recruited because of her native Mandarin Chinese skills. The issue is written form, specifically using pinyin. As she explained, “People in Taiwan sometimes use pinyin which looks like English letters, for street signs to help foreign visitors who cannot read Chinese, but Taiwan does not use it for educaton or computer input, and CBT, computers, is the only way the Mandarin Chinese PRAXIS II is given. For education, we use Bopomofo, which looks more like Chinese. As a result the 23 million people in Taiwan would fail the test, even though we have perfect Chinese, just as the 1.3 billion people in M=mainland China would fail the test if they used Bopomofo. According to the state, not only am I not an American, I am also the wrong kind of Chinese.” She added that the “Mandarin Chinese PRAXIS II discriminates on the basis of national origin, which violates federal law.” She said a complaint was filed last week with the EEOC and a copy was given to the members of the BOEE. All she has asked is that she write in Mandarin Chinese, the skill she allegedly cannot prove because of the self-selected test on the part of the BOEE and the Iowa Department of Education, her husband, Jim Hussey, told the board, also in a prepared statement. Ironically, for six years, Mrs. Hussey taught Mandarin successfully in the Mid-Prairie schools.