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Bonding with Mr. Milner

Mr.+Milner+explains+what+will+happen+if+Norman+decides+to+pass+this+bond+%7C+NPS+Stock+Photo
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Bonding with Mr. Milner

Mr. Milner explains what will happen if Norman decides to pass this bond | NPS Stock Photo

Mr. Milner explains what will happen if Norman decides to pass this bond | NPS Stock Photo

Mr. Milner explains what will happen if Norman decides to pass this bond | NPS Stock Photo

Mr. Milner explains what will happen if Norman decides to pass this bond | NPS Stock Photo

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We were recently given the opportunity to interview one of the facilitators and organizers of the 2019 municipal bond, Mr. Milner. This interview was to get more information about the bond issue, as well as if they actually knew how much this would cost or if they wouldn’t know until it was passed. Be sure to read Mr. Milner’s responses to several questions as well as vote on Feb. 12 and voice your opinion on the school’s decision to spend more of your money through a six-year bond issue.

 

White: Mr. Milner, could you state your name and spell it out for me?

Milner: Justin Milner. J u s t i n, Milner, M i l n e r.

White: First question: how does the district come up with the amounts of money that they request in bond issues?

Milner: It’s a pretty lengthy process, and [we’re very] methodical in our approach to that. We began, as we have in the past, with a demographic study. We bring in folks from outside to take a look at the demographics of our community and of our district to help us better understand what and where the growth patterns are or will be over the next 10 years, and so from that we received feedback that indicated that the district’s growth seems to be plateaued over the next 10 years. So based on that information, [it] did not indicate that we needed to add an additional elementary or what’s oftentimes asked of us is, “what about a third high school?” So given that data, those are not necessary. So moving forward, looking at this as an opportunity to catch up, because a number of our school sites [have] portable buildings with classrooms. So how can we better utilize space? So being able to add some classroom additions began formulating. So then we turned to having the facilities assessed. So we have an outside group come in and evaluate the facilities. They look from top to bottom, stern to stern, interview the principal, and in addition to central office staff gathering information as to where growth and programs and those kinds of things may be, we were able to be pretty exhaustive in our approach. So [we] identified well over $300 million worth of needs and wants. And so from that, knowing we didn’t have a $300 million bonding capacity, we began looking towards how we prioritize. So we turned to the community; we developed a survey of sorts that we were able to send out, and maybe you received that yourself, to our teachers, to our students, to our parents, and other community members, and gather that information. Based on that information, [we] focused in on some of what you saw, probably in your review of information, focus areas in the area of safety and security. So from that, we began paring it down to what you see there.

White: From what I understand, you were the main facilitator and organizer of this bond. Is that correct or is that incorrect?

Milner: Dr. Migliorino and myself, yes.

White: So you alluded to this earlier, but for the record, is this all the money you asked for, and if not, what did [the Board] not approve of?

Milner: No, this was the bond package that we presented to the Board of Education, and they accepted through the approval of the resolution based on all the things I just described. As I said, we started off with $300 million and worked through and prioritized that based on the community’s feedback. That’s how we arrived at the $186 million, which we then proposed to the Board of Education.

White: So from what I understand, and you can point out what I don’t, you guys pointed out $300 million in needs and basically tried to shed that down to $186 million before a real proposal was put forth to the Board.

Milner: Correct.

White: Okay.

Milner: Knowing that we don’t have a $300 million bonding capacity.

White: Has the district ever denied the Board any kind of municipal bond or emergency funds for immediate upgrades in the district? In other words, has the Board ever denied you guys the right or the opportunity to pass a bond?

Milner: This would have been my first experience with that, and I’m not aware of anything like that.

White: Okay.

Milner: So I can only speak to this 2019 request.

White: Our readers may be interested in what this information means between section four and proposition one in the resolution sheet here, and we’ll make a link to the resolution sheet located on the NPS website. But explain to our readers what the bond series section on the resolution sheet means between section four and proposition one right here.

Milner: So what you have is a school bond issue, that $186 million bond issue, is over six years. So what you have is how you finance it. So, capital improvement projects are the least revenue. And then the other items described in the resolution itself are most likely in the GO bond. And so there are two ways of financing that, and so we have a financial advisor that puts that projected totals in series. So it’s how those bonds are sold over time, and over the course of those six years, it’s just showing you there how we, we break that down, and finances so it’s not additional money, it’s all those totals laid out into a series of sales of bonds.

White: Like I said, your least revenue dollars you get up front. So that allows you to move forward with your construction. So your construction, your bricks and mortar, come about in the first three years. So you have three years to reach substantial completion, and substantial completion is 85% [complete]. So that’s the least revenue. Then the GO bond; this is probably the simplest way to describe it, this GO bond, then you get a series sometimes twice a year or once a year, that bond, just like we talked about construction materials, like textbooks. So we are able through that series of GO bonds each year to receive and pay for about a million dollars worth of textbooks.

White: Okay.

Milner: So it’s all in the financing.

White: Okay. Next question: what are the big ticket item in this bond? In other words, what is the district most focused on versus what will cost the most in this bond?

Milner: The focus, again, based on the feedback from the community really was around safety and security. And so that’s why we’ve, you know… you see a lot of items that are listed fall within the area of safety and security. And so storm shelters has a significant presence in that under the category of safety and security. And then from that, not just building a storm shelter that’s just going to be there that may be used once or twice a year, but how do we approach building a storm shelter that can be used multiple ways. And so that’s where we identified [the problems], and you see a number not exclusive to music rooms, or Fine Arts facilities, but a number of those. So you look at the portable buildings, you know, you find that a lot of our music rooms, more specifically in the elementary level, are in those portable buildings. So how can we build a storm shelter, take that program out of the portable building, [and] bring them into the main building? Also, the benefits of a storm shelter that have eight to 12 inches of concrete. So there’s a sound buffer there. So win-win-win across the board, and now you’ve got a multi-use room that is a storm safe area for the students there. So that’s a pretty solid presence as far as the bond as a whole.

White: I’m sorry, I’m just trying to take notes as we go along here.

So my readers would be interested in knowing how these bond issues work. Can you explain that to us very briefly?

Milner: Well, I think the easiest way to do it is, you know, starting with “what is a school bond issue?” “What can you do with a school bond issue?” A school bond issue can be used for capital improvement, which is the bricks and mortar, instructional technology… or excuse me, instructional materials, and transportation. So oftentimes, folks can ask the question with regards to “can you use those dollars for salaries?” No, you can’t. So we legally are required to stay within those areas that I just described.

White: Okay, so again, I’m not coming after you guys, I just want to better understand this process. Who is brokering this bond, and how much will that brokership cost?

Milner: Bank of Oklahoma is our financial advisor, and so they’ll be the ones that will sell the bonds going forward. At least, that’s who has assisted us in the past. So we’ve been pleased with their service, and I anticipate that we [will] go forward with them. As far as the cost involved, and again, all these things… I couldn’t give you a cost at this point until we actually go through and implement [this bond], because as you are aware, the market fluctuates. So our interest rates today may not be the interest rate on February 13 or in April when, you know, certain things are sold.

White: Yes, I’m obviously aware that the market fluctuates. But we can probably make some sort of prediction on the last bond as far as interest rates go. So what was the interest rate on the last bond, and what can we expect to pay this go around?

Milner: I’d have to go back and look and see what it is because again, with the different series you have different interest rates that fluctuate through that process. So it’s not like I can just point to them and say that’s that percentage.

White: Thank you. This interview will go up shortly.

Milner: Thank you.

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