Belleville District 201 moves to restructure debt

News-DemocratNovember 18, 2013 

Belleville School District 201 school board took preliminary steps Monday night to refinance some of the district's debt.

Assistant Superintendent Brian Mentzer said the district is looking to refinance a portion of its $10 million in debt in an effort to further stabilize the district's tax levy. The district's debt restructuring will occur between now and January, he said.

Superintendent Jeff Dosier praised Mentzer's efforts. "We are trying to get this done to maintain our tax rate," he said. "That's been a goal of this Board of Education for many years now."

Mentzer estimated the district will levy for about $26.5 million next year. The school board will vote on the district's final levy amount at its meeting next month. This year's tax rate will be identical to what it was last year, he said.

"For the third year in a row, we have levied with the same tax rate; how we are able to do that is by this restructuring," Mentzer said. "We are trying our best not to increase our tax rate and are trying to live within our means."

Mentzer also informed school board members the state of Illinois owes the district $1.6 million.

In other news, the board approved the following Monday night:

* An intergovernmental agreement between Southwestern Illinois College and District 201 to offer the Running Start Program for the 2014-2015 school year. The program allows highly-qualified high school students to earn a high school diploma while simultaneously earning an associate of arts degree from SWIC. The cost to participate in the program for students and their parents is $3,150 for tuition and fees.

"We think it will be a nice alternative for some students," Dosier said. "We don't think it will impact a lot of students, but it does provide one more alternative for students."

* The purchase of a vehicle, not to exceed $16,000, for the district's driver's education department.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.

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