The Woodward News

Local News

July 23, 2013

Frustration with FEMA continues to build

(Continued)

Woodward, Okla. — The Woodward County Education Facilities Authority

In other business, Attorney Jeff Raley of Norman based Floyd Law Firm, presented a proposal for the possible formation of a Woodward County Education Facilities Authority.

The authority would act as an oversight and approval authority for the 10-year, nearly $8 million bond issue that voters approved for Sharon-Mutual schools, Raley said.

Forming the authority is necessary when schools attempt to build large projects so that the school district can borrow enough money up front to complete construction in a timely manner, according to Raley.

"Under state law, schools cannot issue debt more than 10 percent of their net valuation," Raley said. "The authority would allow the school to build the project now and allow parent and students the access to those facilities now."

That means instead of parsing the project together spending no more than $800,000 per year over the 10-year life of the bond issue, Sharon-Mutual schools could have their construction done within the next two years, said Jeff Thompson, Sharon-Mutual Superintendent, who was present at the meeting.

"This is the same way they did the project at Shattuck School District through Ellis County," Thompson said.

Raley referenced problems for school districts in years past, before the formation of these types of authorities that act as a conduit to funding for large school bond issue projects.

"In the old days, you'd go by a school gym and notice how it would have different colored brick on two parts of the gym or even unfinished projects," Raley said.

That was because the school was limited to what they could legally borrow against their own district net valuation and what the bond issue brought in, year to year, he said.

"It is hard to go back to a public asking for funds to build projects when they never see anything completed," he added.

In the case of Sharon-Mutual, there are large construction plans for several new classrooms that include safe rooms, as well as some improvements to the science and math building in Mutual that also include safe rooms, Thompson said.

The formation of the Woodward County Education Facilities Authority would allow those projects to be completed quickly and then paid out in a series of payments related to the sale of the bonds, Raley said.

"We have to have this authority formed," Thompson said "Other schools in Woodward County could also benefit in a similar way from the formation of the authority."

District No. 2County Commissioner, Randy Johnson made a motion to table any action regarding the formation of the authority until the District Attorney could read the proposal and approve it. Vernie Matt seconded the motion.

District No. 1 County Commissioner Tommy Roedell was on leave Monday, attending a meeting.

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