Saturday, July 12, 2014

Northwest moves closer to $3 million bond for school repairs

August 22. 2013 8:53AM
TOM HUNTINGTON Times Leader correspondent

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UNION TWP. — Discussions at Wednesday’s Northwest Area School Board meeting continued on executing a $3 million bond issue to finance repairs throughout the district.

David Payne of PNC Bank told the school directors it is possible that by mid-September an interest rate can be locked in and Northwest Area bonds could be on the market. Overall, Payne said, he has been in contact with officials at Standard & Poor’s in New York about an assigned rating for Northwest, and in response to a question by director Pete Lanza he speculated that an interest rate of 3.25 to 3.50 percent might be available.

Payne also projected that, including financing expenses, legal costs and debt service fees, Northwest will be financing $3.2 million.

According to comments by Payne and Al Melone, district financial advisor, debt service on the bond issue over a period of 17 years will average out to .35 mills in real estate tax increases. However, Northwest taxpayers in the first three years of indebtedness could see tax hikes of 1.6 mills in 2014-15 and 2015-16.

For the present budget year, 2013-14, Payne estimated debt services expenses at $5,000.

Melone said current interest rates are financing-friendly and “it’s just a matter of the people stepping up and finish the deal.”

In advance of receiving a final report from Payne, the board decided to schedule a public meeting of the budget and finance committee at a day and time next week to be announced in newspaper advertising.

In other matters:

• Superintendent Ron Grevera said a microwave tower project is scheduled to begin next week. It is designed to improve communications at the high school and the Huntington Mills school as well as facilitate communications with school buses.

Grevera also said that in accordance with a state Department of Education decision, the No Child Left Behind Program has been suspended.

• Over objections by director Albert Gordon about USAgain being a “for-profit organization,” the board voted to rescind an agreement with the firm to collect clothing on school property for recycling purposes.

- Student handbooks for the various grade levels of the district were approved, as were professional and non-professional staff hirings, including the retention of Galen Miller as athletic director.

• Bus contractors and route numbers were accepted as presented, including a change in the Shickshinny bus stop to the municipal building on West Union Street.

• Because of an increasing awareness of head injuries, Jennifer Oiler, director of special programs, announced that a seminar on concussions has been scheduled in accordance with the start of the new school year.

• Lori Frey of Shickshinny was introduced as the district’s new food services director.

At a special meeting on July 30, the school directors acted to retain John Audi as solicitor and awarded a refrigeration project at the high school, $25,504, to Rice Food Equipment and Consulting Service Inc.

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