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Concord school board to consider $8.6 million bond

Concord residents are being asked to weigh in on the school district’s plan to bond up to $8.6 million for major capital projects at four schools.

A public hearing on the plan is scheduled for Aug. 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the high school library. The board is expected to vote on the bonds at the meeting.

Of the total amount, about $7.6 million would be used for capital improvements at the high school, Rundlett Middle School, and Broken Ground and Beaver Meadow elementary schools. The remaining $1 million would be used to buy six full buses and eight short buses.

The plans have already been vetted by the district’s finance and facilities committees, said Jack Dunn, business administrator. “We’re maintaining the buildings. This is the most cost effective way to finance it, no different than a homeowner trying to finance their home,” he said. “We have to protect the investment taxpayers put into these buildings.”

The notes would add to the district’s $52.7 million in principal debt, most of which is the result of the school consolidation program. That debt will expire in 2041. Principal from a $1 million bond for various building upgrades in 2000 will be off the books by 2018, Dunn said. “The advantage of bonding as a municipal entity is you have a better way to finance projects than through conventional financing,” said Dunn.

The district tries to maintain 5 percent of its operating budget specifically to pay debt service, Dunn said. Currently, a taxpayer with a house assessed at $250,000 pays about $275 toward the district debt service, he said.

The plan’s schedule anticipates work beginning in 2015 and ending by 2024. Plans include slightly more than $1 million in work on Beaver Meadow, almost $1.2 million on Broken Ground, $2.9 million on Rundlett Middle School and almost $2.5 million on Concord High School. Big-ticket items include new HVAC systems at the schools, a new roof at Rundlett and new floors in 115 of the high school’s 411 rooms.

“We’re set with the new schools, but we have to look at the rest of the inventory,” said Dunn. “You have to reinvest in these buildings to keep them modern.”

The board can approve up to $8.6 million in bonds.

“For the school, they authorized $62.5 million, but we used $55 million. We only borrow what we need,” Dunn said.

All of the projects were identified in the district’s long-term capital improvement plan, which is reviewed annually, said Matt Cashman, facilities director. Even with regular maintenance, many of the fixtures pegged for replacement were installed when the schools opened and are nearing the end of their useful life, he said. Last year, Cashman toured the buildings with school board members to give them an idea of the projects.

“I walked them through, and that sort of put the picture together for everybody,” he said. “You don’t want to get to the point you have a classroom with a leaking roof, because then you’re in trouble. You’ve got to stay ahead of it, and this is the mechanism to do it.”

(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or iwilson@cmonitor.com or on Twitter@iainwilsoncm.)

Legacy Comments1

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