Taking advantage of historical low interest rates will save the district more than $859,000

Augusta School Board members agreed Monday night to authorize the sale of general obligation refunding bonds, an action that will save the district more than $859,000 by taking advantage of historical low interest rates.

Dustin Avey with Piper Jaffray appeared before the board and explained why they should take advantage of the current refinancing opportunities. He advised them that the bonds will be refinanced at 5.125 percent and the projected interest after refinancing is 2.97 percent.

Board members approved 7-0 to refinance.

School lunches

Food service and the school nutrition program were discussed at Monday's BOE meeting. Leah Williams, local director and Lisa Corrao regional director of Taher Food Services, informed the board members of the new school lunch guidelines - fewer calories, more fruits and vegetables.

The new regulations are the first significant changes in nearly 15 years and are part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act passed by congress. The new USDA rules are designed to improve health and nutrition. Following are just some of the changes:

* Lots of fruits and vegetables: The required offering has doubled. Each student must have at least 1/2 cup fruit or vegetable.

* Eat the rainbow: A total of ¾ cup orange or red vegetable and least 1/2 cup of each are required per week. Grades K-8 are required to have 2.75 cups of veggies and grades 9-12, 5 cups.

* Whole grains will comprise at least half of the grain offerings.

* Milk choices: 1% or skim (fat-free). All flavored milk must be fat-free.

* Portion Limits: A minimum and maximum calorie level is specified for three age groups: Grades K-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

* Other requirements include limits on saturated fat, sodium and zero trans fat items.

"Students at the elementary level eat fruit better than vegetables and many students just want their bread and meat," Williams said.

Board member Kim Braungardt expressed her dislike for the school food and in order to make sure her daughter eats, she packs a lunch for her each day.

Corrao assured her that sometimes children need to be exposed to a new food a number of times before they'll consider trying it, and they need time to get used to this new way of eating. She advised that they are always trying to find ways to make the food more appetizing to the students.

Bond construction winding down

Superintendent Black reported that work in the all of the Middle School areas; second gym and FEMA classrooms are finished. Work has begun in the original gym involving refinishing the floor and painting portions of the wall and should be complete in time for basketball season.

Dr. Black also explained that bus drop off and pick up will be on Clark St., the south side of the school. The buses will proceed behind the building and turn around.

Engineers have advised the district in regards to making the crosswalk perpendicular on State St., that the sidewalk leading up to the school entrance will have to be changed and made handicap accessible.

Garfield Elementary

The new building will be turned over to the district on Dec. 3, 2012. Students will start attending on Jan. 3, 2013.

A few remaining details are left, as well as some clean up. Testing and balancing of the systems will be commissioned next week.

Dr. Black reported that the playground area is turning out nicely and looks larger than some thought it would. The five elm trees and fencing along State St. have been removed, but fencing will be installed.

The ribbon cutting ceremony will be at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10, and the Community Open House will be held on Sunday, Jan. 13.

Robinson Elementary

The one year walk through is scheduled for this week. VCT and ceramic tile, which has proven hard to care for and easily damaged, will be replaced with carpet over Christmas break.

Lincoln Elementary

An exterior sign still needs to be constructed. VCT and ceramic tile will be replaced with carpet. PBA is considering solutions to acoustic problems in small group rooms.

Phase II, the razing of the Dearborn building and construction of a parking lot will occur in January, depending on the weather.


Before the conclusion of the meeting, Board member Bill Rinkenbaugh praised Robinson Elementary for another impressive Veterans Day Program. "If you've never gone, you should really go. It's very moving. When those veterans are recognized and honored, it's pretty emotional. I also heard some comments from people that they'd like to see the district observe Veterans Day with a day off."

Board member Andy Hall announced his decision not to seek re-election to the board.

"I've got so much going on with my family and work. I wanted to be involved with the bond issue and construction process, and I was. It's time for someone else to serve."

Hall has served since July, 2009 and his term expires in June of 2013. He is in District II, Seat 5.

The December Board of Education meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, at the district administration office, 2345 Greyhound Dr.