September 23, 2013


A nonprofit organization requested the use of school grounds to host a three-day music festival to promote foster parenting, orphan care and adoption at last Monday night's meeting of the Carroll Community School District board of directors.

The nonprofit, Hands in Motion (HIM), provides volunteer-sign language interpreters for music and art festivals. Jeff Hauser, director of the nonprofit, proposed REAL Fest - Really Effecting Another's Life.

"There are 104,000 kids in the U.S. looking for a home," said the Lohrville resident. "When kids don't end up in homes, they end up in the trash."

Hauser said the proposal is supported by Bethany Christian Services, one of the nation's largest adoption agencies, and Iowa Kids' Net, a statewide collection of foster-care organizations. It is also supported by Carroll residents, including Peter Collison and Wes Treadway of Carroll Broadcasting, who both attended the meeting.

Hauser said that he already has a sponsor wiling to cover costs for 15 to 18 country and Christian artists, including some Grammy and Dove award nominees. Money raised through ticket purchases would be donated to foster-care and adoption organizations.

According to Hauser, attendees for a weekend music festival typically travel from within a four-hour radius of the festival location. This distance will enable organizers to advertise in surrounding states such as Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota, as well as Iowa. Hauser told the board that he believes the festival could eventually bring up to 15,000 people to Carroll, representing an influx of $1 million to $3 million into the local economy.

Proposed dates for the festival would be Friday through Sunday, Aug. 1-3. Music would last roughly from noon until 11 p.m. each day. The adoption and foster-care organizations would present a seminar on Saturday morning, and a community-wide church service would be offered Sunday morning, said Hauser. There would be no alcohol.

The REAL Fest organizers requested specific use of the gymnasium, showers, dining room and multipurpose room at the high school for seminars, sanitation and management purposes. They also requested the use of the grounds, specifically the soccer and practice fields, for both a staging area and camping area.

Hauser admitted that though he has been involved with festivals for more than a decade, this is the first time he has ever organized such an event.

Board members voiced concern regarding the wear and tear on facilities so close to the beginning of the school year. They also voiced doubts on the festival's ability to bring 15,000 people to Carroll and the city's ability to host that many visitors if organizers did achieve that goal.

Board members decided not to vote on the proposal until they have researched similar-sized festivals such as Sonshine in Wilmar, Minn., or LifeLight in Sioux Falls, S.D. They will revisit the issue at the next regular board meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21.

In other business:

- The board approved the sale of $6.8 million of school sales infrastructure and revenue bonds to fund construction projects including a new softball stadium, a wrestling and storage area at the high school, a renovated cafeteria at Fairview Elementary School and a building addition for fifth-grade classroom space at the middle school.

According to Tim Oswald, a financial adviser from Piper Jaffray, a combination of local banks were capable of purchasing about half of the bonds while the remaining balance was purchased by an out-of-town bank. Iowa Savings Bank purchased $500,000 worth of bonds, United Bank of Iowa purchased $1.5 million worth, Carroll County State Bank purchased $900,000 worth, Commercial Savings Bank purchased $500,000 and Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust purchased $3.5 million worth of bonds.

The bond sales won't be final until Oct. 2, said Gary Bengtson, business director for Carroll schools. The school board will subcontract with Banker's Trust in Des Moines, which will handle the sale. The school board will make principal and interest payments twice a year.

The interest rate on the bonds is fixed at 3.6 percent. According to Bengtson, the preliminary payment schedule shows the final payment due in 2030, but the district could pay them off as early as 2018.

First payment on the bonds will be made July 1, 2014. For the first two years, the district will pay interest only on the bonds, about $440,000, while the district finishes paying off the bonds it sold about 25 years ago for middle and high school construction projects, said Bengtson. In January 2016, the money that had been pledged to the previous general-obligation bonds will be used to begin paying the principal on these new construction bonds. The payments for the new bonds will be about $620,000 per year, about $220,000 more annually than the previous bonds, Bengtson added.

The bonds will be paid off with sales-tax revenue, which generates $1.2 million to $1.4 million a year for the district. This revenue is restricted for infrastructure purchases such as construction, technology or large equipment, said Bengtson. It cannot be used for instructional items such as teachers' salaries or textbooks. According to Bengtson, the additional revenue not used to pay the bonds will give the board a cushion for unanticipated projects, such as a new roof or boiler expense, or an upgrade to meet changing technology needs.

- The board approved seven personnel changes in the district. Roxanne Wittry was hired for a contracted bus-driving position and a food-service position, earning $953 per month for bus driving and $8.40 per hour for food service. She will work five hours a day at Carroll Middles School.

Dan Owen was hired for a dishwashing position at Carroll Middle School. He will work 2 1/4 hours per day on Tuesdays and Thursdays and be paid $8 per hour. Carolyn Butler was also hired for a dishwashing position at Carroll Middle School. She will work 2 1/4 hours per day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and be paid $8 per hour.

Larry Lesle was hired for a substitute and activity-bus-driving position. He is also the juvenile court liaison for the district.

Norval Nissen, a retired CHS art instructor, was hired for set construction for the fall play. He will receive $679.

Glenn Babb was hired for the one semester of student senate. He will receive $441.15. Kathy Cordes was hired for a year of student senate. She will receive $1,057.20.