The Frankfort Independent Schools board Monday unanimously approved the issuance of energy conservation bonds.
“This will help to elevate our work in our buildings, provide a more safe and secure environment for our students, and it comes right in time for this COVID-19 challenge, where we can really focus on making sure our air quality is as good as it can be … and provide energy conservation along the way,” said FIS Superintendent Houston Barber.
The bonds went on sale Thursday at 11 a.m. and will help FIS improve lighting, ventilation and other energy-consuming infrastructure.
“The revenue bonds sales will generate an aggregate principal amount of $850,000 that will mature in 2035. The interest will be determined at the time of sale,” said FIS Board Chair Jina Greathouse.
Board member David Garnett said the issuance of the bonds was needed “because of the amount of money this was the most expeditious way of raising it.” The board will be raising money for the project through the issuance of the bonds with the promise of repaying the money over time with interest.
State law prohibits school boards from borrowing money for periods longer than a year, which wouldn’t have worked with the bonds. This is where the finance district comes into play.
“The finance district issues the bond and then in your board business you’ll approve a lease," said Greg Phillips, the board's attorney. “So they're going to lease the project to the school district one year at a time so that everything is legal.”
The lease will be automatically renewed on a yearly basis. Philips said that it is a favorable time to issue the bonds because interest rates are at all-time lows.
Board Chair Jina Greathouse added that FIS has been throwing this idea around since 2005, and that it has taken until now to really get anything in the works.
FIS has been one of the few school systems selected to receive a $37,000 Farm to School Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that Barber said will help “bolster commitment for healthy eating and living.”
He said the grant would help FIS give students some hands-on learning about gardening with the potential of a community garden, but said that it may look a lot different because of the pandemic.
“South Frankfort is kind of a food desert,” said Barber. “So having the opportunity to have fresh fruits and vegetables, having access to how to cook … is a huge framework.”
During his Title IX report the superintendent said that the schools were doing a good job to promote gender equality, “but we still have ways to go to really show some impactful work for our young ladies, so we’re going to.”
Barber referenced the possibility of using Capitol View Park for softball since the city is installing new lighting, but said that the city hasn’t given him a timeline on that.