Carmichaels area board authorizes bond issue for renovation project

Carmichaels school renovations to cost between $23 and $25 million

February 21, 2013

CARMICHAELS – Carmichaels Area School Board voted Thursday to authorize the issuance of an additional $10 million in bonds to help fund the district’s proposed school renovation project.

The board is moving ahead with plans to renovate all three district buildings.

The project has been estimated to cost between $23 million and $25 million. Taking into account state reimbursements, estimated at $7 million, actual costs to the district will be between $16 million and $18 million.

The board in June, in anticipation of the project but prior to the project scope being established by the architect’s feasibility study, had voted to issue an initial $10 million in bonds, citing the extremely low interest rates.

The average interest rate over the life of the first $10 million in bonds was 3.67 percent.

Since that time, rates have edged up slightly, said Chris Shelby, the district’s investment banker. However, it’s still a “phenomenal” market for bonds and rates remain close to the historic low, he said.

Shelby noted rates hit an all-time low of 3.27 percent in November. They are now in the range of about 3.7 percent. Shelby said his firm would look for the best opportunity to sell the district’s bonds to lock in the lowest rates possible.

The resolution authorizing the new bond issue cited a figure of $13 million. District bond counsel Sean Garin explained the listed number was higher because amounts had to be taken into account at each bond maturity level. However, the district’s bond issue can not exceed $10 million, he said.

In a related matter, the board agreed to hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. March 5. Superintendent Craig Baily said the board will meet then with the district architect, Kevin Hayes, to finalize the architect’s contract.

Once the contract is approved, Hayes will begin the design phase of the renovation plan, which will include talking to administrators and teachers regarding their needs.

The board was informed last month the district’s initial application for state reimbursement for the proposed school renovation project had been approved by the state.

The board accepted retirement notices of three members of the district’s maintenance staff: maintenance technician Frank Lukacs, custodian Larry Cain and maintenance supervisor Lou May.

May has been maintenance supervisor for the last 27 years. Board member Ken Ganocy commended May, saying he’s done a “great job” for the district, a comment that drew applause from the rest of the board.

Board member Jerry Simkovic also spoke of the number of projects the maintenance staff had completed in house that saved the district more than $1 million. They included the renovation of the auditorium, construction of a garage and storage building and installation of a handicap access seating area at the football field.

The district has had a smaller maintenance staff, per student, than any other district, Simkovic said. “But we got more bang for the buck.” The three will be hard to replace, he said.

May also spoke, citing the efforts and hard work of the other two members of his staff who were retiring, Lukacs, who has 22 years with the district; and Cain, who has more than 30 years with the district. May’s retirement is effective June 30.

Baily also reported that as of March 11 all employees of the district will be wearing identification badges while on the job. The badges will be important in emergencies to help emergency responders identify those who should be in the building, he said.

Bob Niedbala worked as a general assignment reporter for the newspaper for 27 years in the Greene County bureau. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh.

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