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During a busy evening, the Farmington R-7 Board of Education recouped over a million dollars and laid the ground work for a new school building.

The board began the evening with a public hearing prior to its regularly scheduled meeting to hear Samuel R. Woodring, and Courtney B. Wegman, CPA, - representatives from L.J. Hart and Company - discuss two fiscal opportunities for the school district.

First, the two financial advisors explained how the district could refinance bonds purchased more than a year ago, allowing the district to save more than a million dollars.

“When we purchased the bonds in early 2016 at 5 percent, we knew at the time, we would look for a chance to refinance at a lower interest rate,” explained Don Eaton, the director of business services. "We will keep the same principal payments but instead of paying 5 percent we will be locked in at 3 percent.”

According to Eaton, the 2 percent drop in the interest rate could save the district approximately $1.2 million.

“When you can save $1.2 million by locking into a lower interest rate, you don’t have to be a finance major to see that as a win for the district,” said Superintendent Matt Ruble. “As we move forward as a district it is obvious that money will come in handy.”

Additionally, Woodring and Wegman explained another opportunity for the district. According to the two, the district could purchase a parcel of land through the sale of $250,000 lease certificates of participation - allowing the district to purchase the land and allow for a five-year lease to own agreement.

According to Ruble the parcel of land in question was once owned by the Presbyterian Children’s Home on Pine Street. The land - a total of more than 160 acres - was sold at auction in October. During the board’s regular session, the proposal for the both the leasing and the refinancing was unanimously accepted.

“Once again, looking at the long term, securing the 40 acres close to the city limits is a great opportunity,” Ruble said. “We have been working with Chuck Koppeis and will continue to work on plans. It may be an intermediate school or a new middle school, but it will not be a high school.”

In other business, the board announced two board seats would be open during the April 2018 election, and will begin accepting declarations of candidacy from anyone interesting in running. Jeff Lawson and Delores Howard currently hold those two seats.

Filing begins at 8 a.m. on Dec. 12 and ends at 5 p.m. on Jan. 16, 2018.

During the evening, the board recognized two teachers - Bobby Upchurch, the high school’s Featured Teacher, who was not able to make it last month’s board meeting, and John Minnis, Truman Learning Center’s Featured Teacher.

Kim Johnson, the principal of Truman Learning Center, presented Minnis with award.

“Mr. Minnis is another one of our outstanding teachers who works diligently to promote academic success among our students,” Johnson said. “He goes above and beyond every single day providing such thought-out lesson plans that keep our kindergartners up and moving, listening to stories and performing by either singing or learning to play an instrument. He is also the only music teacher I have ever had that relates music lessons to literature which is an important element in kindergarten.”

Johnson finished the presentation by announcing how much she will miss the music teacher when he retires at the end of the year after 36 years as an educator.

Breaking from the norm of just one Heartland Hero, Johnson picked six organizations that help make Safety Day a fun learning experience for the school. Johnson and the board recognize the following: The Farmington Police Department and Fire Department, St. Francois County Ambulance District, Air Evac Life Team, the Farmington Correctional Center K9 Search and Rescue Unit and Missouri Department of Conservation.

During the evening, several students from Truman were recognized for their work with peers and lending a helping hand to their teachers.

The first student recognized was Anna Hostetler who, according to Johnson, was a wonderful helper in making a video for the Early Childhood Program of the Year Award presentation. The kindergartener helped the school principal create a virtual tour of the school, which was shown at the MSBA conference when representatives accepted the award on behalf of the district.

In addition to Hostetler, Johns also recognized four student other students, Karson Faenger, Kinleigh Hayes, Addyson Blankenship and Alex Patterson for outstanding character and positive citizenship in Mrs. Wolk’s co-teaching classroom.

Also recognizing students during the board meeting was the district’s Athletic Director John Bacon and his high school coaching staff. They recognized the accomplishments of the teams and athletes in the fall sports program, which include cross country, football, golf, boys soccer, softball, boys swimming, girls tennis and volleyball.

In other business, the board approved and expenditure of $29,524 for the purchase of new wrestling mats. According to the district, the second bid was for $30,680.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Dec. 19 at the district's administration building at 1022 Ste. Genevieve Ave. and is open to the public.

Craig Vaughn is a reporter for the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3629 or at


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