WATERFORD - A move by the Wolf Creek Local school district earlier this year will result in the rate on a bond issue dropping by more than a mill next year.
After the board of education and administration elected to "refund" the 2001 bond issue that raised $6.6 million to build the Harry W. Cooper Annex at Waterford Elementary School, the district got a lower interest rate and will save about $1 million over the remaining life of the bonds.
The effective rate of the bond issue this year was 3.36 mills and it will drop to 2.87 mills for 2013, due largely to the refunding, Treasurer Rachel Miller told board members during Monday's regular meeting at Waterford High School.
"If the board would not have refinanced, our bond rate would have been 3.94," she said. "So it dropped a whole mill."
The approximate cost for the owner of a residential property valued at $100,000 will go from an annual $102.90 to $87.89. The higher rate would have cost the same owner about $120.66.
The 28-year bond issue was approved by voters at a rate of 5.5 mills. However, it could only collect a set amount per year, and increases in property value have kept it from ever reaching that original rate.
6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 7, Waterford High School library.
An increase in property values in the district means the rate of an emergency levy renewed by voters earlier this year will also drop from 5.76 mills to 5.48 mills, Miller said. That equates to an annual decrease of about $8.57 for the owner of a $100,000 residential property.
In other business, the board unanimously approved a new evaluation policy ratified by teachers in the Wolf Creek Local Education Association earlier in the day. It brings the district's teacher evaluation policy in line with state requirements, including that 50 percent of the assessment be based on student achievement.
Superintendent Bob Caldwell said one focus of evaluation methods under the federal Race to the Top program and state legislation is providing districts with the means to remove low-performing teachers.
"We already had that in place. We've already eliminated low-performing teachers," he said.
The new evaluations will be geared toward improving education in the district, Caldwell said.
Waterford High School Principal Randy Shrider said the new process emphasizes evidence and documentation to support an administrator's assessment of a teacher.
"You can't just write two or three flowery paragraphs and say, 'There now, that takes care of that.' The key is evidence," he said.
The process will be more time-consuming for administrators, with pre- and post-observation conferences, as well as additional required walk-throughs, Waterford Elementary Principal Doug Baldwin said. He said he believes teachers are already meeting most of the requirements, but that will be more thoroughly documented under the new system.
Shrider said one principal estimated it could take as many as eight hours to evaluate a single teacher, compared to a couple now.
Caldwell praised the work of faculty representatives, including WCLEA President Suellen Coleman and Beth Smith, in meeting the "lofty agenda" of having the agreement in place by the end of the year. Although neither will be conducting evaluations, they were credentialed as evaluators in an effort to better understand and share the process with their peers.