Concord School Board okays issuance of up to $8.6M in bonds for capital projects
The Concord School Board unanimously approved the issuance of up to $8.6 million in bonds for major capital improvements last night. However, the public will still have a chance to weigh in on specific components of the project.
If the district bonds the entire $8.6 million, about $7.6 million would pay for projects at Concord High School, Rundlett Middle School, and Broken Ground and Beaver Meadow elementary schools. Improvements would include new roofs, doors, flooring, HVAC systems, plumbing work, and electrical and life safety projects. The remaining $1 million would be used to replace buses dating from 1997 to 2006 with mileage between about 200,000 and 250,000.
There is still a lengthy process before bonds are issued and work begins, said Business Administrator Jack Dunn. “If you authorize this, then we start preparing all of the legal work for you to go to the bond market,” he said. “There are a number of steps that need to happen.”
The bonded program will complement about $876,000 in completed and planned capital projects paid for with capital reserves between 2013 and 2015. That list of work includes new fire panels at the high school and Broken Ground, a new floor in the high school cafeteria and bathrooms in Rundlett.
Dunn laid out an 11-step path forward that includes legal reviews, preparation of a bond structure and debt schedule, a conference call with ratings agencies and, eventually, a bond sale. The plan’s schedule anticipates work beginning in 2015 and ending by 2024. The plan includes almost $2.5 million at Concord High School, more than $1 million at Beaver Meadow, almost $1.2 million on Broken Ground and $2.9 million at Rundlett.
The work, and the price tag, at Rundlett caught the attention of resident Don Jewell.
Jewell questioned whether the $2.9 million is a wise investment if the district considers building a new middle school at any point in the future. “Is this the minimal amount of work that needs to be done?” he asked. “Is it dangerously minimal because you don’t know what you want to do with the school?”
Details about what work would be approved on the bond will be drafted later, and with public input.
“We don’t want to make a long-term investment that we are going to tear down or not use, so that’s something we certainly are mindful of,” board member Jennifer Patterson said.
Board member Barb Higgins called for balance.
“We have to make it clear we are talking about a balance. We aren’t going to gut and redo an entire wing because the school won’t be there in 10 years, but we certainly aren’t going to make children go to the bathroom in bathrooms that are unsafe,” she said. “Let’s be very clear on that.”
The only other resident at last night’s meeting, Sheila Zakre, asked whether there was remaining money from the $55 million bond the district issued for the school consolidation project.
“First, what are the plans for the money that was budgeted for school consolidation, and second, was there consideration for using that money for the maintenance projects as outlined in this proposal?” Zakre said.
Though the district was authorized to borrow up to $62.5 million, it only borrowed $55 million, Dunn said.
“There is a misnomer that there is extra money,” he said. “We only borrowed what we thought we would use.”
(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@iainwilsoncm.)