Lewisburg-area school board administrators voted Thursday to refinance about $ 28 million in unpaid debt while agreeing to an $ 8 million loan.
The refinancing savings of $ 2.8 million on top of the loan money would help offset the cost of proposed HVAC upgrades at three district schools and avoid completely depleting the $ 2 million in funding. existing capital assets of the district.
Capital funds are assessed for emergency expenses or potential savings for a project years later, such as solar power, as discussed by the directors. The loan will result in an estimated property tax increase of 0.00017 thousand over 20 miles, or less than 2 cents per year for a $ 100,000 property.
The refinanced debt consists of two bonds from the construction of the high school, one of which was refinanced last year, and a loan used as the district’s contribution to a construction project at the SUN Area Technical Institute.
The seven school board principals in attendance on Thursday voted to refinance and accept the loan: Cory Heath, Erin Jablonski, Mary Brouse, Tera Unzicker-Fassero, Mary Ann Stanton, John Rowe and Virginia Zimmerman. Directors Jordan Fetzer and Lisa Clark were absent.
McClure Company’s proposal includes heating upgrades and adding air conditioning to Kelly Elementary School, Linntown Middle School, and Donald H. Eichhorn Middle School.
The company offered separate project packages, one at $ 9.9 million and the other at $ 10.5 million. The savings over 20 years are estimated by the company at $ 1.9 million and $ 2.1 million, respectively.
The main heating unit at Eichhorn in both packages would switch from electricity to gas. The more expensive package includes a more extensive conversion of various heaters in Eichhorn from electricity to gas, as well as an HVAC system upgrade for the neighborhood maintenance building.
Jablonski suggested going ahead with the cheaper package, saying the volatility in the natural gas market might not make the additional $ 540,318 outlay at Eichhorn worth the investment. Council could choose to maintain the maintenance building upgrade at an additional cost of $ 11,766.
Alyssa Wingenfield, a representative for McClure who presented the proposals to the board, suggested that directors act no later than October 28 to avoid possible cost increases in the first quarter of 2022. According to the schedule suggested by McClure , major construction work would take place between May and September. , she said.
Heath has asked administrators to review the proposals in the coming weeks.
Helping students to grieve
Chris Ruhl, principal of Kelly Elementary, spoke about how guidance counselors and district teachers have helped students grieving two deaths in the district.
Landyn Zerby died in July from injuries sustained in a car crash. He was 8 years old. Library Assistant Amy Underhill died in August, just two days before the district schools reopened.
Ruhl said school staff used the book “The Invisible String” to teach students how people can maintain emotional bonds regardless of distance, if a friend leaves the neighborhood or dies. The book was read in each class and the pupils started on their own “strings”.
“They started talking about dead grandparents, dead pets, being away from mom,” Ruhl said. “It really turned into an amazing opportunity for the kids to voice some of their worries and concerns. “
A special session was held for Zerby’s classmates and friends, Ruhl said. The students prepared a memory book that was presented to the boy’s family at a recent memorial service.
Underhill’s family had suggested donations to the Library Assistant’s hometown library in upstate New York. Ruhl said Lewisburg area donations exceeded $ 6,000 in memory of Underhill. The funds, he said, are to be used for a commemorative corner in the children’s section which will be dedicated to Underhill’s name.