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GFW school board OKs bond refinancing

GIBBON — The Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop (GFW) School Board unanimously approved a resolution to refinance “other post-employment benefit” (OPEB) bonds Monday.

According to PMA Securities, $1.1 million in 2009 bonds purchased for staff medical expenses at 5.42% interest would be refinanced at about 2.76%. The move is expected to save taxpayers $27,500 over five years.

“Bonds are at historic lows now,” said Steve Pumper of PMA Securities. “The year-long borrowing interest rate is .4%.”

The bonds would be executed on Oct. 14 and ratified by the board Oct. 19, with an Oct. 20 call notice. They will close on Nov. 18, with a Nov. 20 call date.

Education in time of COVID

Superintendent Jeff Horton told the board that the school district is in a better position than it was on July 1.

“Our staff has been very responsive in finding creative ways to educate students,” Horton said. “We’re going to continue to work on procedures. We have in-person learning but offer distance learning for those that want it.”

Student representative Baleigh Peterson told the board that overall student morale is good. Horton thanked her for her work and extra effort since July 1.

Horton thanked the GFW Community Education Generations For Warmth group for making 924 masks in four styles for the school district. The group won the Minnesota Community Education Association Project Award.

Football, volleyball to happen

Horton reported the Minnesota State High School League voted Monday to begin football and volleyball seasons after earlier deciding not to do so.

Horton said the six-game football season starts with games Oct. 9 and 10. A 14-game volleyball season starts with games Oct. 8.

“I’m for allowing students to choose what sport they want to be in,” said board chairman Phil Klenk. “They may well chose one sport or the other.”

Board member Becky Vos said the cross country team now has some great athletes and is doing better than it ever has.

“Let it be up to the coaches and athletic director,” Vos said.

“Coaches can work with students, the athletic director and superintendent if need be,” Klenk said.

Horton said the state high school league already collected a GFW membership fee of nearly $3,000 and recently asked for two more $2,500 payments.

“Our fee depends on the number of students we have,” Horton said. “The Tomahawk Conference supports the high school league that may be short of money due to lack of tournaments.”

Other news

Horton said the Fairfax school building continues to draw interest. Bids will be accepted on the property through Oct. 2.

The board also approved selling the Gibbon football field to the City of Gibbon for $50,200; the maximum preliminary levy for taxes payable in 2021; a dance team coop with Sibley East; and a $1,400 athletic equipment donation from the GFW Athletic Boosters.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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