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CCJSHS project may not affect near-term tax rate

November 03, 2010
A major construction project at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School may be possible without impacting the tax rate in the immediate future.

Dr. Mark Eastridge, superintendent of the Crawford County Community School Corp., said repayment of up to $1.5 million borrowed for renovation of the school's science labs and media center could be delayed until much of the existing debt for the elementary schools' renovation from the late 1990s is retired.

According to a debt service rate impact study presented to the corporation's board of trustees at its Oct. 19 meeting at Marengo Elementary School, the corporation will pay about $1.6 million annually in debt service until 2016 (excluding about $500,000 of gaming revenue the county receives each year from the county), when the yearly payments will begin trending down. The annual payment is expected to decrease to $427,453 in 2022 and $152,913 in 2024, its last year.

The study projected that the new loan currently could be repaid in two years — 2022 and 2023 — by simply extending the current rate for those years instead of increasing it. In fact, when gaming revenue is figured in, the debt service fund tax rate would be 0.27 and 0.11 in those years, respectively, less than the 0.39 rate this year.

The project would gut the six existing science labs, renovating them into three modern science labs and one vocational agriculture lab, as well as renovate the media center.

The project's architect has estimated the total project cost will be between $1.7 million and $2.3 million. Eastridge is expected to ask the Crawford County Council for permission to use $250,000 this year, and possibly $250,000 next year, of the school's gaming revenue distribution to pay upfront costs, such as architectural fees, bringing the amount to be borrowed down to $1.5 million.

Eastridge, during a visit to the council in September, said the projects are the "last big pieces of improving our educational environment at the school." In the past few years, the high school has undergone a series of physical improvements, including shoring up the building's exterior and constructing new special education classrooms.

Only cosmetic improvements, such as replacing ceiling tiles, doors and cabinets, would remain, Eastridge said.

"That's smaller stuff that maybe we can do out of our capital projects fund," he said.

School trustees, at their October meeting, also were informed by Eastridge that the corporation achieved Adequate Yearly Progress under the state's accountability system based on the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The corporation, as a whole, as well as each of its five elementary schools, were listed in the top "exemplary progress" category. The junior-senior high school, however, was placed in the "academic watch" category.

Trustees also approved the following items:

•The resignation of Brad Mills as freshmen boys' basketball coach.

•The following recommendations from CCJSHS Athletic Director Jerry Hanger: John Atkins as volunteer assistant athletic director and junior varsity baseball coach, Ernie Stroud as softball coach, Jimmy Ward as wrestling coach and Michael Biggs, Jason Ward and Ben Miller as volunteer assistant wrestling coaches.

•The following recommendations from Milltown Elementary School Principal Tami Geltmaker: Doug Pearson as volunteer coach, Misty DeWeese as sole dance coach, Sherry Schulz as a specialized instructional assistant and Ade Faye Trambaugh as a Title I instruction assistant.

•A professional services and consulting agreement with Diehl Evaluation and Consulting Services Inc.

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