Rock Hill saves money with bond retirement

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Rock Hill school officials seized the opportunity to save several hundred thousand dollars Monday evening.

The board agreed to transfer to an escrow account $3,090,000 in school bonds left over from school construction financing that paid for new and renovated schools in the late 1990s. The account will free the school district from the effects of fluctuating interest rates on repayment of that money.

“What we’re doing, when they issued the school bonds to build new schools, Duke (Energy) gave us money to pay the bonds off. The money went into a bond retirement account,” board treasurer Chris Robinson explained. “The $3,090,000 is what is yet to be paid off. What we did was take the bonds and the future interest and put it into an escrow account with a trustee so the school district doesn’t have to assume the risk for the interest. Right now the interest rates are back up to almost what they were when the bonds were issued but they’re probably going to go back down again. In theory, if the interest rates go back down and stay down for a long period of time, if we had not done what we did it would have cost us several hundred thousand dollars more.”

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In other matters, the board honored the high school quiz bowl team for winning both the Ohio Valley Conference and the Ironmasters quiz bowl competitions.

“This is the first time in the school’s history that our quiz bowl team has won both competitions,” high school principal Steve Lambert said.

Also Monday evening, Rick Diamond, whose autistic son is a student at the elementary school, said he is circulating petitions to ask the Ohio Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education to investigate the district’s handling of educational programs for handicapped and developmentally challenged students in the district.

Diamond has publicly complained at previous board meetings about the way some elementary school officials handle individualized education plans (IEPs) for such students. Federal law requires students with disabilities to have, upon request by the parent, an IEP that is created specifically for the handicapped child and addresses that child’s special educational and other needs while the child is at school. The IEP is supposed to be created by parents, school officials and any other

necessary people the parents or school officials may choose.

Diamond cited three lawsuits pending against the school district as other examples of how handicapped and minority students are mistreated by some school officials. Brent and Amanda Unroe have sued the school district, superintendent Lloyd Evans, elementary school principal Freddie Evans and assistant principal Vickie Evans, claiming their African-American children were treated unfairly by some school officials and that Brent Unroe lost his job as a teacher in the district when the Unroes complained about what was happening to their kids. Two other parents, Shara Jenkins and Brenda Mulkey Reynolds have also sued the district, claiming their diabetic kids were discriminated against.

The board also voted 4-1 to give middle school principal Wes Hairston a five-year contract. The item on the agenda called for Hairston to get a three-year contact. Board member Carl Large said Hairston deserved a better deal and asked that the resolution be changed.

Johnna Lunsford, director of the Rock Hill Child Development Center, was given a new three-year contract.

Also Monday night, the board agreed to pursue the purchase of new lockers for the middle school.

“Those lockers are in bad shape,” board member Wanda Jenkins said. Some of the lockers are falling out of the walls, some won’t lock. We’ve got to keep our buildings up. Its like spring cleaning, got to do it.”

The board also agreed to pursue the purchase of new bleachers for the high school balcony, to alleviate seating shortages during large school events, and new platform risers and storage racks for the high school show choir.