Nor was the board informed about many of the spending decisions that forced the school district into a situation where it had to take out $74 million in loans just to complete construction...and construction is not complete yet.
The first mention of loans came last year when CEO Paul Barr spoke during a board meeting about the need to cover $8 million of "might-as-well" spending, spending that administration officials did when they came up with an idea and then said they "might-as-well" spend the money and do it. These expenditures included artificial turf for practice fields and the soccer field, lighting for all fields, a press box, four extra tennis courts and a track so the students would not have to go to Junge Field every day during track season.
The board never approved those expenditures and neither did R-8 voters, when they passed a $62 million bond issue, the largest in the district's history in April 2012.
Huff and Barr acknowledged to the board only recently that they knew they would have to have the $29 million loan that was approved Thursday during a special session even before they received approval last year for loans of $37 million and $8 million.
Half of the $29 million loan is being used to pay invoices for construction work that has already been completed, while the other half is being used to pay off the previous loans.
Huff attempted to convince board members that they had been told about the need for the $29 million loan, but Barr fell on his sword and said the board had not been told and took the blame.
This is not the first time that Huff has delayed letting the public know that the district needed to borrow money. When Barr first mentioned the might-as-well spending and the need for an $8 million loan, neither he nor Huff said anything about the need for a $37 million loan.
That was first revealed in an e-mail sent by Barr to Huff and the Board of Education after the Board approved the $8 million loan at its July 22 meeting:
The financing package we are putting together looks like this at this time. The financing team, including US Bank, will continue developing the package targeting initial Board action on T 7/22. Currently this is draft information:
Short term financing - offset by future collections from FEMA (75% of building projects), CDBG grant, 404 Safe Room grant, EDA grant $37 million. Cash flow projections reflect most of this to be paid off within 6-9 months. Maturity date .
Intermediate term financing - offset by future SEMA collections (10% of building projects) and lagging FEMA collections after all projects are closed out - received in the months following. Estimated $9 million. Collections during FY16 will pay this amount off. Maturity date .
Long term financing - for additional building scope items at JHS/FTC - scope items not a part of destroyed buildings. 20 year lease purchase bonds - $8million. Payable with approximately $600,000 of former capital outlay budget reduced for FY15 and future years for the short term. Future new revenues to be set aside in pieces to grow to $600,000 for re-payment years 6-20 so the capital outlay budget can be replaced in about 5 years.
Both the intermediate term financing $9m & the long term financing $8m are planned to bring to the BOE at the September meeting, with a closing in the first half of October.
What has remained consistent throughout the financing process is that the board has had no input into spending decisions that drove the district further and further into debt and had little or no choice in approving Huff and Barr's loan proposals because otherwise the district would have been put in the position of not paying contractors for work that had already been done.
What is also evident is that President Anne Sharp and the board have absolutely no control over C. J. Huff and with the exception of board members Debbie Fort and Jim Kimbrough (and Kimbrough is leaving the board next month) no one has even challenged Huff.