The regular meeting of the School Board of Independent School District No. 544 was held in the Otter Community Room at the Kennedy Secondary School. Chair Melanie Cole called the meeting to order at 5:15 pm. The following members were present: Kirby Anderson, Melanie Cole, Matthew Lemke, and Stephen Vigesaa. Missy (Melissa) Hermes and Natalie Knutson were absent. Jeff Drake, Superintendent, Renae Macheledt, Finance Director, and Elaine Jahnke, HR Director, were also present. 

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all present. 

Matthew Lemke, acting clerk, established a quorum. 

Kirby Anderson made a motion to approve the agenda as presented. The motion was seconded by Stephen Vigesaa and carried unanimously.

Jodie Zesbaugh, representative from Ehlers and Associates, presented during the public hearing on Property Tax Abatement For Parking Lot Construction And Improvement Project

Melanie Cole offered the resolution of acknowledgements for the following and moved for its adoption:

Thank you to the Friends of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center for their donation of an emergency radio set to Cleveland Elementary School.

The motion was seconded by Stephen Vigesaa and upon roll call vote being taken, the following voted in favor thereof: Kirby Anderson, Melanie Cole, Matthew Lemke, and Stephen Vigesaa;

and the following voted against same: 

None. 

Whereupon said motion was declared duly passed and the resolution adopted.  

Reports were presented by: 

  • Kirby Anderson – 544 Education Foundation, Finance, Activities
  • Melanie Cole – Spec Ed Coop, Region I
  • Matthew Lemke – LCSC Board, MSHSL
  • Stephen Vigesaa – Curriculum Review
  • Jeff Drake  – Superintendent

 

General Consent Items

The following consent agenda was presented for approval: 

  1. Minutes from the August 22, 2022 regular School Board meeting 
  2. Bills and Treasurer’s Report - reviewed by Melanie Cole and Kirby Anderson prior to the start of the School Board meeting:

 

General Fund

$1,435,226.98

Food Service

$65,208.39

Community Service

$6,487.14

Building Fund

$0.00

Debt Service

$0.00

Trust & Agency

$9,086.94

Activities

$228.74

TOTAL

$1,516,238.19

 

  1. Personnel

Support Staff Hires:

  • Heather Johnston, student support aide @ Adams; effective 8/31/2022
  • Molly McGuire, student support aide @ Adams; effective 8/31/2022
  • Kate McNelly, CNA instructor @ REC; effective 8/29/2022
  • Amy Hopper, long-term para educator substitute @ McKinley; effective 8/29/2022
  • Linda West, long-term special education paraprofessional substitute @ KSS; effective 9/6/2022
  • Laurie Nash, piano accompanist @ KSS; effective 9/19/2022
  • Amy Toy, Hallway Supervisor @ KSS; effective 9/15/2022

 

Support Staff Resignations:

  • Michelle Johansen, para educator @ McKinley; effective 8/24/2022
  • Robyn Hoeper, special education paraprofessional @ Adams; last work day-9/16/2022

 

Certified Staff Hires/Contract Changes:

  • Mark Aho, overload contract - .0833 FTE; 1st semester PE (2022-23 school year)
  • Heather Heikes, elementary teacher/School of Choice - contract change to .4372 FTE; effective 8/29/2022
  • Heather Miller, iQ elementary teacher - contract increase of .1667 FTE (total .5 FTE); effective 8/29/2022
  • Jennifer Carlson, iQ elementary teacher - contract increase of .1667 FTE (total .5 FTE); effective 8/29/2022

 

Administrative Hire:

  • Nancy Reard, special education administrator - .4 FTE; effective 8/23/2022

 

  1. 2022-2024 Agreement between ISD #544 and the Minnesota School Employees Association Custodian/Secretarial Personnel 

 

Stephen Vigesaa moved to approve the consent agenda. The motion was seconded by Kirby Anderson and carried unanimously. 

 

Old Business: 

None

 

New Business: 

  1. Melanie Cole offered the resolution and moved for its adoption:

 

RESOLUTION RELATING TO PROPERTY TAX ABATEMENT FOR PARKING LOT PROJECTS; GRANTING THE ABATEMENT  

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the School Board (the “Board”) of Independent School District No. 544 (Fergus Falls Public Schools), Minnesota (the “District”), as follows: 

 

Section 1. Authorization and Recitals.

 

1.01. The District, pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, Sections 469.1812 to 469.1815, as amended, (the “Act”) is authorized to grant an abatement of certain property taxes levied against net tax capacity imposed by the District on parcels of property by the adoption of a resolution specifying the terms of the abatement.

 

1.02. The District intends to undertake construction of and improvements to parking lots at various sites in the District (the “Improvements”) and benefiting certain property within the District boundaries identified on EXHIBIT A attached hereto (the “Property”).

 

1.03. The District has proposed to finance the Improvements by granting an abatement of the property taxes imposed by the District on the Property (the “Proposed Property Tax Abatement”), and by issuing bonds to provide an amount equal to the sum of said Proposed Property Tax Abatement.

 

1.04. Pursuant to the Act, this Board on September 12, 2022, conducted a public hearing on the desirability of granting the Proposed Property Tax Abatement. Notice of the public hearing was duly published as required by law in a newspaper of general interest and readership in the District more than ten days but not more than thirty days prior to the date of the public hearing. The form of said Notice and the publication of said Notice prior to the date of adoption of this resolution is ratified and confirmed in all respects.

 

Section 2. Findings. On the basis of the information compiled by the District and elicited at the public hearing referred to in Section 1.04, it is hereby found, determined and declared:

 

2.01. The District expects that the benefits to the District associated with granting the Proposed Property Tax Abatement are at least equal to or exceed the associated costs to the District.

 

2.02. The granting of the Proposed Property Tax Abatement is in the public interest because it will finance and provide public infrastructure and help provide access to services for residents of the District.

 

2.03. The nature and extent of the public benefits which the District expects to result from the Proposed Property Tax Abatement are the construction of and improvements to parking lots at various sites in the District, which will enable District residents to continue to conveniently and safely access these facilities which are regularly utilized by the public for school and community events.

 

2.04. The Property is not located in a tax increment financing district.

 

2.05. The granting of the Proposed Abatement will not cause the aggregate amount of abatements granted by the District under the Act to exceed the greater of (i) ten percent (10%) of the District’s net tax capacity for each taxes payable year to which the abatement applies, or (ii) $200,000.

 

2.06. It is in the best interests of the District to grant the tax abatement authorized in this resolution.

 

2.07. Under Section 469.1813, Subdivision 9 of the Minnesota Statutes, it is not necessary for the District to obtain the consent of any owner of the Property to grant an abatement.

 

Section 3. Granting of Tax Abatement.

3.01. A property tax abatement (the "Abatement") is hereby granted in respect of property taxes levied by the District on the Property for ten (10) years, commencing with taxes payable in 2023 and concluding with taxes payable in 2032. The estimated total cost of the Abatement is $1,978,834 over ten (10) years.

3.02. The District shall retain the Abatement and apply it to payment of all or a portion of the costs of acquiring or constructing the Improvements or to the payment of bonds of the District issued to finance costs of acquiring or constructing the Improvements, whether such bonds are issued pursuant to the Act, or other law, as authorized by Section 469.1815, Subdivision 2 of the Act.

3.03. The Abatement may not be modified or terminated by the Board during its term. 

The motion was seconded by Matthew Lemke and upon roll call vote being taken, the following voted in favor thereof: Kirby Anderson, Melanie Cole, Matthew Lemke, and Stephen Vigesaa;

and the following voted against same: 

None. 

Whereupon said motion was declared duly passed and the resolution adopted.  

 

  1. Melanie Cole offered the resolution and moved for its adoption:

 

RESOLUTION STATING THE INTENTION OF THE SCHOOL BOARD TO ISSUE GENERAL OBLIGATION FACILITIES MAINTENANCE, CAPITAL FACILITIES, TAX ABATEMENT, AND REFUNDING BONDS, SERIES 2022A, IN THE APPROXIMATE AGGREGATE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT OF $14,075,000; AND TAKING OTHER ACTIONS WITH RESPECT THERETO

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the School Board (the “Board”) of Independent School District No. 544 (Fergus Falls Public Schools), Otter Tail and Wilkin Counties, Minnesota (the “District”), as follows:

 

  1. Background. The Board proposes to issue general obligation facilities maintenance bonds, capital facilities bonds, tax abatement bonds, and refunding bonds. In connection therewith, it is hereby determined that:

 

(a) Facilities Maintenance Bonds.

 

(i) The District is authorized under the provisions of Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 475, as amended (the “Act”), and Minnesota Statutes, Section 123B.595, as amended (“Section 123B.595”), to issue general obligation facilities maintenance bonds for the purpose of financing certain facilities and site maintenance projects approved by the Minnesota Commissioner of Education (the “Commissioner of Education” or “Commissioner”).

 

(ii) The Board hereby finds and determines that it is necessary and expedient to the sound financial management of the affairs of the District to issue its general obligation facilities maintenance bonds (the “Facilities Maintenance Portion”), in the aggregate principal amount not to exceed $6,400,000, pursuant to the Act and Section 123B.595 to finance the costs of certain facilities and site maintenance projects of the District (collectively, the “Facilities Maintenance Project”) which are included in the District’s ten-year facilities plan for Fiscal Year 2024 (the “Plan”).

 

(iii) The Plan approved by the Board is incorporated in this Resolution as though fully specified herein. District staff and officials are authorized and directed to submit any amendments to the Plan and the proposed issuance of the Facilities Maintenance Portion to the Commissioner for approval, as required by the Act and Section 123B.595. District staff and officials are further authorized and directed to submit to the Commissioner such additional information as may be necessary to secure such approval.

 

(b) Capital Facilities Bonds.

(i) The District is authorized under the provisions of the Act and Minnesota Statutes, Section 123B.62, as amended (“Section 123B.62”), to issue general obligation capital facilities bonds for the purpose of financing certain facilities and site maintenance projects approved by the Commissioner.

(ii) The Board hereby finds and determines that it is necessary and expedient to the sound financial management of the affairs of the District to tentatively authorize the issuance of general obligation capital facilities bonds (the “Capital Facilities Portion”), in the aggregate principal amount not to exceed $4,225,000, pursuant to the Act and Section 123B.62 to finance the remodeling of existing space for use as kindergarten classrooms and related support spaces (the “Capital Facilities Project”). If issued, the Bonds will mature within fifteen (15) years of the date of issuance.

(iii) The issuance of the Capital Facilities Portion shall become finally authorized unless a petition calling for a referendum on the question of whether to issue said Capital Facilities Portion, signed by more than fifteen percent (15%) of the registered voters of the District, is filed with the Board within thirty (30) days of the date of the adoption of this Resolution. A petition must be in the form required by law. The minimum number of valid signatures for such a petition shall be determined with reference to the number of registered voters in the District as of the last day before the petition is filed with the Board.

(iv) District staff and officials are authorized and directed to submit to the Commissioner such additional information as may be necessary to secure any further approval of the Commissioner for the issuance of the Capital Facilities Portion that may be required by Section 123B.62. The submission of information and a request for approval prior to the date of this Resolution is ratified and approved in all respects.

(c) Tax Abatement Bonds.

(i) The District is authorized by the Act and Minnesota Statutes, Sections 469.1812 to 469.1815, as amended (the “Abatement Act”) to issue general obligation tax abatement bonds.

(ii) Pursuant to a resolution adopted by the Board on September 12, 2022 (the “Abatement Resolution”), following a duly noticed public hearing, the Board approved a property tax abatement (the “Abatements”) in the approximate amount of $1,978,834 for certain property in the District (the “Abatement Parcels”) over a period of ten (10) years in an amount sufficient to provide financing for parking lot construction, reconstruction and improvements at school sites and facilities districtwide, and related financing costs (the “Abatement Project”).

(iii) In the Abatement Resolution, the District found and determined that the Abatement Project benefits the Abatement Parcels, that the Abatement Project will provide access to services for residents in the District, and that the maximum principal amount of bonds to be secured by Abatements does not exceed the estimated sum of Abatements from the Abatement Parcels for the term authorized under the Abatement Resolution.

(iv) The Board hereby finds and determines that it is necessary and expedient to the sound financial management of the affairs of the District to issue its general obligation tax abatement bonds (the “Tax Abatement Portion”), in the aggregate principal amount of approximately $1,600,000, pursuant to the Act and the Abatement Act to finance the costs of the Abatement Project. The Facilities Maintenance Project, the Capital Facilities Project, and the Abatement Project are hereinafter collectively referred to as the “Projects.”

(d) Refunding Bonds.

(i) At a duly-called and regularly-held special election on May 13, 2014, the voters of the District approved the issuance and sale by the District of general obligation bonds for the acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities in the maximum principal amount of $2,725,000 pursuant to the Act.

(ii) The purpose of the bonds as approved by the voters is to provide funds for the acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including the construction and equipping of additions, improvements, site improvements and related facilities.

(iii) On June 2, 2015, the District issued its General Obligation Bonds, Series 2015 (the “Series 2015 Bonds”), in the original aggregate principal amount of $2,770,000 pursuant to the Act, and in accordance with the authority granted by District voters. The Series 2015 Bonds are currently outstanding in the aggregate principal amount of $1,930,000 of which $1,805,000 is currently subject to redemption on February 1, 2023.

(iv) The District is authorized by Section 475.67 of the Act to issue and sell its general obligation bonds to refund outstanding bonds when determined by the Board to be necessary and desirable for the reduction of debt service costs of the District.

(v) The Board hereby finds and determines that it is necessary and desirable for the reduction of debt service costs to the District that the District issue its general obligation refunding bonds, in the approximate principal amount of $1,850,000 (the  “Refunding Portion”), pursuant to the Act, specifically Section 475.67, subdivision 3, of the Act, to redeem and prepay the Series 2015 Bonds.

(e) The Board hereby determines that the Facilities Maintenance Portion, the Capital Facilities Portion, the Tax Abatement Portion, and the Refunding Portion shall be combined and issued as a single bond issue in the original aggregate principal amount of approximately $14,075,000 (the “Bonds”). The Board hereby designates the Bonds as the “General Obligation Facilities Maintenance, Capital Facilities, Tax Abatement and Refunding Bonds, Series 2022A.”

  1. Covenant as to State Credit Enhancement. 

(a) The District hereby covenants and obligates itself to notify the Commissioner of a potential default in the payment of principal and interest on the Bonds and to use the provisions of Minnesota Statutes, Section 126C.55 (the “Credit Enhancement Act”) to guarantee payment of the principal and interest on the Bonds when due. The District further covenants to deposit with the paying agent for the Bonds (the “Paying Agent”), or any successor paying agent, three (3) days prior to the date on which a payment is due an amount sufficient to make that payment or to notify the Commissioner that it will be unable to make all or a portion of that payment. The Paying Agent is authorized and directed to notify the Commissioner if it becomes aware of a potential default in the payment of principal or interest on the Bonds or if, on the day two (2) business days prior to the date a payment is due on the Bonds, there are insufficient funds on deposit with the Paying Agent to make that payment. The District understands that as a result of its covenant to be bound by the provisions of the Credit Enhancement Act, the provisions of that section shall be binding as long as any Bonds of this issue remain outstanding.

(b) The District further covenants to comply with all procedures now and hereafter established by the Minnesota Departments of Management and Budget and Education pursuant to subdivision 2(c) of the Credit Enhancement Act and otherwise to take such actions as necessary to comply with that section. The Board Chair, Clerk, Treasurer, Superintendent, or Finance Director of the District are authorized to execute any applicable Minnesota Department of Education forms.

  1. Sale of Bonds. The Board has retained Ehlers and Associates, Inc. (the “Municipal Advisor”), to serve as the District’s independent municipal advisor with respect to the offer and sale of the Bonds and, therefore, is authorized by Section 475.60, subdivision 2(9), of the Act to sell the Bonds other than pursuant to a competitive sale.
  2. Authority of Municipal Advisor. The Municipal Advisor is authorized and directed to assist the District in the preparation and dissemination of a Preliminary Official Statement to be distributed to potential purchasers of the Bonds and to open, read, and tabulate the proposals for the purchase of the Bonds for presentation to the Board. The Municipal Advisor is further authorized and directed to assist the District in the award and sale of the Bonds on behalf of the District after receipt of written proposals and to assist the District in the preparation and dissemination of a final Official Statement with respect to the Bonds.
  3. Acceptance of Proposal. The Board shall meet at the time specified in the Preliminary Official Statement to receive and consider proposals for the purchase of the Bonds and take any other appropriate action with respect to the Bonds.
  4. Authority of Bond Counsel. The law firm of Kennedy & Graven, Chartered, is authorized to act as bond counsel for the District (“Bond Counsel”), and to assist in the preparation and review of necessary documents, certificates, and instruments related to the Bonds. The officers,employees, and agents of the District are hereby authorized to assist Bond Counsel in the preparation of such documents, certificates, and instruments.
  5. Notice of Issuance of Facilities Maintenance Bonds and Capital Facilities Bonds. The Clerk is authorized and directed to publish a notice of the District’s intent to issue the Facilities Maintenance Portion and the Capital Facilities Portion of the Bonds in the official newspaper of the District, in substantially the form attached as EXHIBIT A hereto, as soon as reasonably practicable after adoption of this Resolution.
  6. Reimbursement from Bond Proceeds. The District may incur certain expenditures that may be financed temporarily from sources other than the Facilities Maintenance Portion, the Capital Facilities Portion, and the Tax Abatement Portion, and reimbursed from the proceeds of the Facilities Maintenance Portion, the Capital Facilities Portion, and the Tax Abatement Portion. Treasury Regulation § 1.150-2 (the “Reimbursement Regulations”) provides that proceeds of tax-exempt bonds allocated to reimburse expenditures originally paid from a source other than the tax-exempt bonds will not be deemed expended unless certain requirements are met. In order to preserve its ability to reimburse certain costs from proceeds of the Facilities Maintenance Portion, the Capital Facilities Portion, and the Tax Abatement Portion in accordance with the Reimbursement Regulations, the District hereby makes its declaration of official intent (the “Declaration”) described below to reimburse certain costs

(a) Declaration of Intent. The District proposes to issue the Facilities Maintenance Portion, the Capital Facilities Portion, and the Tax Abatement Portion to finance the costs of the Projects. The District may reimburse original expenditures made for certain costs of the Projects from the proceeds of the Facilities Maintenance Portion, the Capital Facilities Portion, and the Tax Abatement Portion in an estimated maximum principal amount of $12,225,000. All reimbursed expenditures will be capital expenditures, costs of issuance of the Facilities Maintenance Portion, the Capital Facilities Portion, and the Tax Abatement Portion, or other expenditures eligible for reimbursement under Section 1.150-2(d)(3) of the Reimbursement Regulations.

(b) Declaration Made Not Later Than 60 Days. This Declaration has been made not later than sixty (60) days after payment of any original expenditure to be subject to a reimbursement allocation with respect to the proceeds of the Facilities Maintenance Portion, the Capital Facilities Portion, and the Tax Abatement Portion, except for the following expenditures:

(a) costs of issuance of the Facilities Maintenance Portion, the Capital Facilities Portion, and the Tax Abatement Portion; (b) costs in an amount not in excess of $100,000 or five percent (5%) of the proceeds of the Facilities Maintenance Portion, the Capital Facilities Portion, and the Tax Abatement Portion; or (c) ”preliminary expenditures” up to an amount not in excess of twenty (20) percent of the aggregate issue price of the Facilities Maintenance Portion, the Capital Facilities Portion, and the Tax Abatement Portion that finance or are reasonably expected by the District to finance the Projects for which the preliminary expenditures were incurred. The term “preliminary expenditures” includes architectural, engineering, surveying, bond issuance, and similar costs that are incurred prior to commencement of acquisition, construction, or rehabilitation of the Projects, other than land acquisition, site preparation, and similar costs incident to commencement of construction.

(c) Reasonable Expectations; Official Intent. This Declaration is an expression of the reasonable expectations of the District based on the facts and circumstances known to the District as of the date hereof. The anticipated original expenditures for the Projects and the principal amount of the Facilities Maintenance Portion, the Capital Facilities Portion, and the Tax Abatement Portion described in Section 8(a), above, are consistent with the District’s budgetary and financial circumstances. No sources other than proceeds of the Facilities Maintenance Portion, the Capital Facilities Portion, and the Tax Abatement Portion to be issued by the District are, or are reasonably expected to be, reserved, allocated on a long-term basis, or otherwise set aside pursuant to the District’s budget or financial policies to pay such original expenditures.

This resolution is intended to constitute a declaration of official intent for purposes of the Reimbursement Regulations.

The motion was seconded by Kirby Anderson and upon roll call vote being taken, the following voted in favor thereof: Kirby Anderson, Melanie Cole, Matthew Lemke, and Stephen Vigesaa;

and the following voted against same: 

None. 

Whereupon said motion was declared duly passed and the resolution adopted.  

 

  1. Matthew Lemke moved to approve the Memorandum of Understanding between Fergus Falls Public School District and Otter Tail Family Services Collaborative; effective 7/1/2022-6/30/2023. The motion was seconded by Kirby Anderson and carried unanimously.

 

The next regular School Board meeting will be held at 5:15 pm Monday, September 26, 2022 in the Otter Community Room at the Kennedy Secondary School. 

 

Kirby Anderson made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 5:58 pm. The motion was seconded by Stephen Vigesaa and carried unanimously.  

 

A work session followed the regular board meeting.

 

_________________________________________

Matthew Lemke, Acting Clerk

 

_________________________________________

 Approval Date