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Board takes step closer to project

November 24, 2010
The Crawford County Community School Corp. Board of Trustees last Tuesday night took steps toward making the proposed renovation of the science labs and media center at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School a reality, including authorizing the letting of bids. However, the project is still at least a couple of months away from formal approval.

"This does not lock you into moving forward. This is just the first step of many," Jeff Qualkinbush of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, the corporation's financial adviser for the project, said before the board voted 6-0 (trustee Myrna Sanders was absent) to approve a resolution regarding the issuance of bonds.

Qualkinbush, who met with the school corporation's building corporation prior to the trustees' meeting, said that a $1.5 million loan funded from the sale of federal Qualified Zone Academy Bonds would enable the project to likely have no bearing on the tax rate.

The QZAB program allows qualifying school corporations to borrow money for renovation projects (no new construction) at little, if any, interest. Qualkinbush said he has been involved with four QZAB projects this year.

"The most any borrowers have had to pay on interest rates is 0.25 percent," he said, noting that such a small amount likely could be paid with miscellaneous revenues and wouldn't impact taxes.

QZAB loans may be taken out for up to 17 years, and the school corporation would be able to defer payment on the principle until near the end, which would be about the time that the existing loan to pay for the renovation of the corporation's five elementary schools in the late 1990s would be paid off.

According to a debt service rate impact study, the new loan could be repaid in two years — 2022 and 2023 — by extending the current rate for those years instead of increasing it.

Actually, 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, if the county continues to get, then share with the school corporation, gaming revenues from Harrison County.

The overall project is expected to cost between $1.7 million and $2.3 million, but Eastridge hopes to use up to $500,000 — $250,000 this year and $250,000 next year — of a cash balance the corporation has from gaming revenue it receives from the county to pay upfront costs, which would lessen the amount to be borrowed. He has asked the county council for permission to do so, but they have tabled the request.

Following Qualkinbush's presentation, Larry Timperman and Brian Lindroth of Michell Timperman Ritz Architects reviewed the project and various bids requests with the board.

The base bid is for just renovation of the science labs, which would turn the six existing labs into three modern science labs and one vocational agriculture lab. Several alternates would add to project, including updating the media center. Another alternate would add a skylight to the media center, which currently has no windows.

Trustee Shawn Scott asked librarian Cheryl Burden, who was in attendance at the meeting, held in the media center, her thoughts about the plans.

"It's a great plan. I love it," she said.

This probably will be the only time the media center will be renovated for 20 or 30 years, so everything should be done that can be done, Burden said.

"A lot of students use this facility every single day," she said. "So, the more that can be done, the more it's going to benefit the students."

Following a motion by trustee Debbie Kaiser, the board voted 6-0 to seek bids.

In other business, the trustees:

•Were told by Eastridge that he doesn't expect an increase to the corporation's group health insurance premium for the upcoming year. He said that, with some adjustments, there is a chance the premium could go down.

•Voted, 6-0, to approve the following consent agenda items:

—Resignations from Eric Emerson as varsity boys' track and field coach, Brandy Hall as Patoka Elementary School Spell Bowl coach and Kevin Milligan as English Elementary fifth- and sixth-grade boys' basketball coach.

—Appointment of Monte Eckert as English boys' A and B basketball coach.

—Maternity leave request of teacher Carly Kaiser.

—Hiring of Ashley Tempel as guidance counselor at English.

—The following teacher transfers: Kevin Milligan, from English sixth grade to Leavenworth Elementary third grade; Gretchen Nelson from English fourth grade to English sixth grade; and Brandy Hall, Title I to English fourth grade.

—Extending the teacher contracts, from Dec. 31 to the end of the 2010-11 school year, of Lisa Striegel, Mary Sue Uebelhor and Jana Sander.

—Hiring Angela Allen as business teacher at CCJSHS.

—Hiring Rob Mitchell to drive the alternative school bus at a rate of $30 per day.

—Accepting a donation of two desks from Indiana Furniture Industries.

—Resignation of business manager Debra Jones, effective Dec. 31.

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