Board approves debt repayment, bond refinancing

STOCK PHOTO - Working on finances

During their regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 16th the Longview ISD Board of Trustees unanimously adopted a resolution allowing for the early payoff of $11,515,000 of existing bonds, creating interest cost savings of $4,701,867.

This action marks the seventh time the District has retired debt earlier than the original maturity schedule of the bonds.

In addition to paying down on bonded indebtedness early for interest cost savings, the District has refinanced outstanding bonds at lower interest rates 5 times over the last 8 years, creating $62,213,018 of total interest cost savings.

Paying Down Past Debt

Board members unanimously approved a resolution to call for the redemption of over $11 million in outstanding bonds. 

The measure allows the early redemption of portions of the district's 2011 unlimited tax school building bonds and 2017 unlimited tax refunding bonds.

"Calling these bonds will allow us to take advantage of available funds to reduce the overall debt burden on our taxpayers," said Dr. Wayne Guidry, Assistant Superintendent of Finance.

The district will utilize excess interest and sinking fund tax collections to repay the bonds before their original maturity dates. This move is expected to save taxpayers a significant amount over the life of the bonds.

"It authorizes the defeasance — the process of setting aside funds to repay a debt before its due date — and redemption of $175,000 in principal from the 2011 bonds maturing in 2026, 2027, and 2028," said Dr. Guidry. "Longview ISD will be redeeming over $11 million in principal from the 2017 bonds on the first available call date of Aug. 15, 2027.

Dr. Guidry said the district will work with the paying agent to provide funds to repay the bonds and give proper notice of redemption as required.

"The early redemption continues the district's commitment to proactive debt management and maximizing savings," he added.

Please click here to download the resolution and related documentation.

Renovations Reimbursement

Trustees unanimously approved a resolution expressing official intent to reimburse costs of renovation and construction projects.

Dr. Guidry said this measure will allow Longview ISD to "spend current funds and repay them with bond proceeds at a later date."

"Regardless of the election results, the district has needs that must be addressed," he said. "This resolution will allow Longview ISD to reimburse itself if Proposition A is successful."

Dr. Guidry said the resolution calls for borrowing up to $50,000 to cover past project expenses.

"These funds will be used for things like building improvements," he said. "But we won't take out any more loans after 18 months from when we spent the money or when the work is done."
In addition, the district will not consider loans for these expenses more than three years after Longview ISD has paid for them.

"If we use special tax credits to repay these costs, we won't use any of this money before today's date," he said. "We also won't use these tax credits for expenses incurred more than 18 months ago."

Please click here to download the resolution and related documentation.

Federal Grant for Gaming

Dr. Craig Coleman, LISD Chief Innovation Officer, presented information about a $3.25 million Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant the district received from the U.S. Department of Education.

"This 5-year grant will allow us to launch an innovative new magnet program aimed at reducing minority group isolation while providing all students with engaging, high-quality educational opportunities," he said.

Dr. Coleman said the new magnet pathway would be called the "WIN Project" and will focus on gaming science and digital arts. 

"This program stands to meet students' needs by aligning with their interests in gaming," he said. "By integrating cutting-edge technology like gaming into core academic subjects, we believe we can get students truly excited about coming to school each day."

Dr. Coleman explained that the WIN Project will fund targeted magnet programs that transform three campuses into whole-school gaming science and digital arts magnets: Bailey Elementary, Forest Park Middle School, and a new "Gaming Science and Digital Arts High School" that will be housed at the Early Graduation campus. 

Some examples of how the program will work include elementary-level students who learn math and science concepts by designing their own video games, and middle schoolers who hone their writing skills by blogging about their gaming experiences. In addition, high schoolers may even have opportunities for industry certifications or internships with local technology companies.

"By making learning more hands-on and relevant, our goal is to attract a diverse mix of students to these magnet programs," said Dr. Coleman. "We want to prevent further isolation of Hispanic and low-income students, while still serving all families in our community with engaging educational options."

Please click here to read the full media release. 

GT Testing Plan Approved

Later, trustees unanimously approved up to $100,000 in funding for the administration of the Iowa and the CogAT for 2023-24.

Beginning with the 2023-24 academic year, all students in grades K-7 will undergo annual screening using the Iowa test. Dr. Catina Love, Campus Success/District Assessment Coordinator, explained, "The Iowa test is a valuable tool to gauge a child's grasp of their studies."

Students receiving bilingual services will receive the Logramos test tailored to their needs. 

Dr. Coleman clarified that the Iowa test will serve multiple functions, saying, "It's a diagnostic tool, a key to Hudson PEP admission, and the first step in our gifted/talented (G/T) identification process."

The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) is an assessment designed to measure a student's cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills. It's commonly used in educational settings, particularly for evaluating students' reasoning and problem-solving capabilities. The CogAT is not focused on assessing a student's acquired knowledge but rather on their ability to think critically, solve problems, and learn new material.

Additionally, students scoring in the 90th or 95th percentile or above in reading and/or math will proceed to the G/T identification's second phase. This assessment data will also be utilized for the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) and Longview Incentive For Teachers (LIFT) programs. 

Please click here to download the resolution and related documentation.

Custodial Pay Bump

Board members unanimously approved an amendment to the Service Solution Corporation (SSC) custodial contract, amending the current contract to establish a new minimum pay of $15 per hour.

The Dallas-based company handles janitorial services throughout the district.

Dr. Guidry said the adjustment sought to address the needs of custodial staff, recognizing the significance of fair compensation.

The changes outlined in the amendment led to a new annual contract amount of $4,026,386, with a starting wage of $15 per hour. 

Please click here to download the resolution and related documentation.

Tax Roll Approved

Later, trustees unanimously approved the district's 2023-24 tax roll for Longview ISD.

The Texas Property Tax Code requires school boards to approve the tax roll each year. Gregg County Tax Assessor-Collector Ms. Michelle Terry had provided the board with tax roll information showing the tax levy for 2023-24 would be $73,455,757.

In a letter to the district, Ms. Terry said the levy was calculated based on Longview ISD's parcel count of 103,567, a market value of $9.23 billion, exemptions of $2.13 billion, and a tax rate of $1.1422 per $100 valuation.

Longview ISD has decreased the tax rate by 37 cents over the past 5 years resulting in a current total tax rate of $1.1422 as of Aug. 14, 2023.

Please click here to download the resolution and related documentation.

Superintendent's Report

Lobo FFA students Dylan Briscoe, Trenton Keebaugh, Maggie Mayes, Landen Melton, and Zamayah Sullivan were presented by Dr. John Gross. LHS Director of Career and Technology, for their impressive accomplishment of earning the prestigious Lone Star FFA Degree. Additionally, LHS teacher and TSA sponsor Mrs. Melissa Swallow introduced middle and high school students achieving high honors at the Technology Student Association National Conference back in July.


Representatives from Schneider Electric were also on hand to present Longview ISD with the Sustainability Excellence Award for programs and initiatives dedicated to promoting environmental stewardship and energy efficiency across the district.

In addition, Dr. Wilcox also received the latest Campus Data Monitoring analysis, RAPTOR (Rapid Algorithmic Prototyping Tool for Ordered Reasoning) data from the Office of Innovation, the monthly District Services summary, the district's Secondary Discipline Matrix, the annual Emergent Bilingual Update, a new Community-Family Engagement Plan, an update on Facilities Bond Planning, and the upcoming Lobo Health & Wellness 5K & 10K Fun Run set for Saturday, Oct. 21 in memory of Mr. James Paul Brewer. 

District Donations

Board members unanimously approved the following donations:

  • $30,000 from Lobos Football Booster Club to purchase supplies and equipment; and
  • $8,000 from Lobos Boys Soccer Booster Club to purchase supplies and equipment.

In other business...

During the course of the meeting, the LISD Board of Trustees also:

  • APPROVED Minutes and Board Time Use Tracker for the Sept. 5, 2023 Special Meeting and the Sept. 18, 2023 Regular Meeting;
  • APPROVED 2023-24 District Improvement Plan and the 2023-24 Campus Improvement Plans;
  • APPROVED out-of-state trip to Indianapolis, Indiana for Longview ISD FFA Officers;
  • APPROVED Financial Statements as of September 2023; and
  • APPROVED Budget Amendment No. 2. 

For more info

Trustees usually meet in the boardroom of the LISD Education Support Center (1301 E. Young Street), but often set special-called meetings at various locations around the district. The next regular meeting is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 13, 2023.

For more information about the Longview ISD Board of Trustees please click here.