The Elizabethtown school board heard about the potential impact to the school district’s budget when it borrows funds for future renovation projects on both the elementary level and the high school/ middle school complex.
At the board’s workshop meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 13, a presentation was made by Brad Remig of PFM Financial Advisors and Lou Verdelli of RBC Capital Markets.
The board is considering consolidating Rheems and Mill Road elementary schools,which would mean closing Mill Road and expanding Rheems. Or both buildings could be renovated. That project would be done first. Then, possibly in five years, the high school/middle school building would be renovated.
Remig and Verdelli presented four different financing scenarios showing a cost of $23.5 million for consolidating the elementary schools and $28.6 million for renovating both elementary schools. Those were combined with two projections for the secondary school renovations: $50 million and $80 million.
Remig said that to prepare for future borrowing now, the board could increasetaxation millage over the next eight years for debt service. However, that increase would eat up much of any increase allowed by the state’s Act 1 index.
For instance, for the fourth scenario of $28.6 million and $80 million, a 0.36-mill increase would take up about three-quarters of a 0.48 mill generated by an estimated 2.9-percent Act 1 increase.
Board member Michael Martin said that the whole 2.9 percent increase is needed just to keep up with the district’s expenses.
“We would have to basically have almost 5 percent of tax increases for eight years” to service that much debt, Martin said.
Business manager George Longridge said that interest rates are expected to rise, making it costlier to borrow in the future.
Superintendent Michele Balliet noted that a public hearing to decide on consolidation must be held at least 90 days before a decision is made and bids are put out. So a hearing would have to be held in December or January in order to bid the project in March or April.
In other business, the board approved a contract with the McClure Co. to install a solar field near Bear Creek School, following land development approval by Mount Joy Township. Longridge said after the meeting that work on the project should start soon.
In addition, the board approved the personnel report, which assigns Timothy Spiegel as acting dean of students at the middle school for the rest of the school year. He will fill in for assistant principal Michael Pericci, who because of a vacancy was assigned to be Mill Road’s acting principal.
Longridge reported that, because of parent concerns about a long bus ride, some bus stops are going to be moved. The changes will be effective on Wednesday, Nov. 28, pending board approval at the Nov. 27 meeting. Letters will be sent out to parents.
The board approved the expulsion of a student for the remainder of the school year because of terroristic threats. District spokesman Troy Portser later declined to answer when asked whether it was related to a threat to the high school reported at the end of October.
The district’s auditors, from Trout, Ebersole & Groff, gave a presentation on the district’s 2017-18 finances, saying that the district had a clean audit.
The board also watched an example of the YouTube video announcement program at the middle school, started last school year. Giving the presentation were social studies teacher Eric Heisey and eighth-graders Emily Kline and Andrea Rodriguez. Grant funding was used to set up the studio. Heisey reported that the program has been a great success.
The board also learned about a proposed $5,000 donation toward handrails for the football stadium to help senior citizens navigate the bleachers. Attending the meeting was the donor, Jess Durham, a military veteran who worked with the NASA team that put a man the moon. The board will vote on the donation.