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School seeks low-cost loan for renovations

September 09, 2009
Crawford County Community School Corp. trustees recently authorized the application for an interest-free, low-cost $2 million federal loan that would be used to make infrastructure improvements at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School.

The school board's approval, however, is only for application, and, if successful, trustees would need to vote to accept the loan.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Eastridge told the trustees at their Aug. 18 meeting that Quality Zone Academy Bond monies, like those the school used to upgrade the high school's exterior, may be available through the federal stimulus package.

The current $2 million loan, he said, requires the corporation to repay only about 80 cents for each dollar, for a total of about $1.6 million, from its debt service fund. Eastridge said that would have to be the case for a new loan even to be possible.

"Is there any chance of this putting any burden ... on any of our other funds?" Trustee Tim Jellison asked.

Eastridge said the loan only would increase the debt service tax rate by about a nickel per $100 of assessed valuation. Earlier in the meeting, he noted that, with the state having taken over general operating expenses in all public schools, residents no longer support the general fund. In addition, he said, in the past few years, $6 million that was borrowed prior to him becoming superintendent has been repaid, decreasing the debt service rate.

Although the final to-do list would be contingent on the architect's report, possible improvements at the high school could include an upgrade to the electrical system, reinforcement of hallway walls and renovation of the science classrooms, Eastridge said.

"The new school over here is 33 years old. The new school wasn't built the best," he said.

Eastridge said he understands county residents are being laid off and money is tight, but the poor economy also has made it less expensive to borrow money. In addition, he said, the architect has indicated projects have been coming in 15 to 20 percent below estimate because of the economic recession.

Trustee Lee Holzbog made the motion to allow for application of the loan. Following a second by Lucas Stroud, the entire board voted 4-0 to proceed. Trustees Debbie Kaiser, Myrna Sanders and Troy Wheeler were absent.

"With the economy the way it is, I hesitate to do it, but it will probably be the cheapest way we can do it," Holzbog said.

The school board also conducted the 2010 budget workshop, voting 4-0 to advertise the proposed $18.8 million budget, along with the Capital Projects and Bus Replacement plans.

"Keep in mind, this will be the budget that we'll advertise; this will not be the budget that will be approved," Eastridge told the trustees, reminding them the proposed budget is always higher.

The public hearing on the budget will be at the school board's regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 15, and the budget adoption will be at the board's regular meeting on Oct. 20, all at the Administration Office at 5805 E. Administration Road south of Marengo.

In another matter, the school board was honored with the Gary Sandifur Tobacco-Free School Award from Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation in recognition of last spring voting to make all corporation property smoke-free.

Presenting the award were ITCP's Missy Stroud and Karla Sneegas, the agency's executive director who is originally from Crawford County.

Sandifur was a lifelong smoker from Kokomo who died at age 50. He had promised his wife, Lorene, that he would quit smoking when he turned 50 but was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer that had spread to his brain.

Sandifur, faced with the realization that he was dying, began speaking to children and teenagers about the dangers of smoking. His wife guided the creating of the award to continue delivering his message.

Trustees also:

•Were given an enrollment update from East-ridge. The total student population for the corporation is 1,639, down slightly from last year's 1,679.

"We've had two big bubble groups graduate," he said, adding the incoming kindergarten classes have-n't made up the difference.

•Approved, 4-0, the construction of a kitchen as part of the special education area renovation at the high school.

See www.clarionnews.net for additional personnel items. •Approved, 4-0, the following consent agenda items:

—The resignations of Michael Barron as eighth-grade football coach, Tarra Carothers as assistant girls' varsity basketball coach, Jelynn Crecelius as varsity cheer coach, Kevin Milligan as English Elementary School track coach, Chris Atkins and Amanda Dalton as Title I assistants and Eric Belcher as eighth-grade boys' basketball coach.

—Garry Sheller as a vocational instructor for the 2009-10 school year.

—The following bus addendums for the 2009-10 school year or a change in student residences: Ramona Garrett, 14.4 miles; Anna Eastridge Foley, two miles; and Billy Joe Walker, 9.6 miles.

—Jannette Toney as varsity cheer sponsor, Katie Newkirk as volunteer cheer coach, Kendra Potter as freshman volleyball coach, Michael Barron as varsity football assistant coach, Michael Carlisle as junior varsity assistant football coach, Marcus Rogers as eighth-grade football coach, Lloyd Arnold Jr. as junior high school assistant football coach and Roger Curl as seventh-grade boys' basketball coach.

—The following persons to serve as volunteer assistant football coaches: Jeremy Shireman, Michael Howerton, Matt Baker, Nick Cotner, Kaleb Wyman, Zane Manship, Daniel Allen and Evan Crecelius.

—The following coaches at Marengo Elementary: Chris Manship, fifth-grade boys' basketball; Kim Grizzel, girls' A-team basketball; Mark Boone, girls' B-team basketball; Amy Hollen and Shannon Sheckels, co-dance squad; Brian Traylor, Mathathon; Bridget Hoten, Spell Bowl; and Cheri VanMeter, Battle of the Books. The following persons will serve as volunteer coaches: Donna Jones, cross country and track; Anthony Spinner, cross country and track; Brian Traylor, cross country and track; and Craig Jones, boys' B-team basketball.

—The request of Debbie Ade, high ability coordinator, for a High Ability Grant.

—The following persons to serve as Title I assistants: Brian Traylor, Marengo Elementary; Christina Hay, Leavenworth Elementary; and Cory Fleck, Emily Bueltel, Chris Moe and Janelle Crews, Patoka Elementary. Leah Long and Courtney Cail were approved as substitute Title I assistants.

—The following coaches at Milltown Elementary: Jason Elliott, girls' A- and B-teams; Chuck Pirtle, volunteer; Karen Pearson, dance team; Doug Pearson, volunteer assistant; and Will Wright, volunteer assistant.

—The following coaches at English Elementary: Kevin Milligan, cross country, sixth-grade boys' basketball, girls' A-team basketball and Mathathon; and Debbie Ruble, Battle of the Books.

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