Cost to build the new school as originally planned, including
demolition of the present building, will be $7,444,831, according to
Bill Ahal of the construction management firm of S.M. Wilson. This
is at least $1.7 million more than the district has left from the
$12.4 originally estimated for its complete building project, which
includes construction of the new Central School, currently under
way, and eventual demolition of both existing buildings.
At its Wednesday night meeting, the board looked at the possibility
of issuing bonds or other financial instruments to secure more
funding. Kevin Heid of First Midstate Investment Bankers of
Bloomington presented several ideas for closing the funding gap,
including one that would not be an extra cost to taxpayers.
Because District 27, unlike about 80
percent of the other school districts in the state, is presently in
good financial shape, the district has the power to issue bonds or
notes to complete funding for the construction projects. A recent
state report gave the district an overall rating of 3.7 out of a
possible four for financial stability.
According to the formula outlined in
state statues, the district at present has the ability to issue
another $2.9 million in bonds. It could issue Working Cash Fund
bonds, alternate revenue bonds or debt certificates. According to
board president Bruce Carmitchel, the working cash and alternate
revenue bonds would require a tax increase, but the debt
certificates would be paid out of current revenue and would not
increase costs to district taxpayers.
Although the debt certificates have
some disadvantages, such as slightly higher interest rates,
Carmitchel said he is looking favorably at that solution right now.
"I don't think our first reaction
should be to ask for a referendum or a tax increase. I think we
should look at everything else first. I think the public wants us to
keep our own house in order and solve the problem ourselves if we
This is a favorable time to issue debt
certificates, Heid said, because of the low interest crates. The
interest rate would be locked in for the life of the certificates,
which could be 15 or 20 years. Issuing debt certificates does not
require a published notice or a public hearing, like bond issues,
because it is not an added cost to taxpayers.
Carmitchel said the district would look
at figures, including how much per year the district would have to
pay out of current revenue for the debt certificates, to be sure it
can handle the extra debt load without any negative impact on the
The board has called a special meeting
for Wednesday, March 12, at 6:30 p.m. at Northwest School to go over
the bonding possibilities and get firm numbers on costs.
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Right now the board is looking at
funding the original plan for the new junior high, which will house
grades six, seven and eight. This 54,000-square-foot plan includes a
three-story classroom wing and a stage. The board also looked at a
pared-down plan of 50,400 square feet and no stage and could go back
to that plan if necessary. However, Carmitchel said he wants to see
figures for the "worst case scenario," the most costly but most
desirable plan, before making any decision.
The $7,444,831 figure presented by Ahal
is based on comparisons of costs of other schools of the same size
being built in the area, but the figure does not include costs for
furniture, fixtures or equipment. Complete new furnishings would
bring the cost to $7,883,000, Ahal said. Superintendent Robert Kidd
said the district has bought some new furniture in the last four or
five years which can be used in the new building. Furniture,
fixtures and equipment can also be purchased out of other funds and
does not all have to come from the building fund, he said.
Although the figures are only
estimates, Ahal said he doesn't expect the building costs for the
junior high to be higher than those for Central School because "the
markets are looking for work."
The board was unpleasantly surprised
when costs for Central went well over estimates. The cost of that
school right now is projected at about $6,342,000, Carmitchel said,
including demolition of the current Central School but not including
furniture, fixtures and equipment.
To get a firmer handle on upcoming
costs, the board agreed to get bids for the demolition of the two
schools to be sure that is in line with estimates.
In other business, the board announced
that the eighth-grade team from Lincoln Junior High School won the
Thinking Cap Quiz Bowl, a statewide academic contest. Lincoln's team
scored 1,263 points, or 94 percent correct answers, to win over 63
other contestants from all over the state. Second-place winner was
Holy Trinity School in Bloomington with 1,235 points. Third place
went to Gemini Junior High School at Niles with 1,186 points. Holy
Trinity also won the seventh-grade competition.
Dr. Kidd announced board scholars for
the past nine-week grading period. To be a board scholar, the
student must earn A's in every class, including gym and music.
Seventh-grade board scholars are Kelsey Dallas, Jaci Gandenberger,
Daniel Garrett, Alexandra Huerd, Rebecca Kasa and Jessica Owen.
Eighth-grade scholars are Jonathon Leisinger, Brandon Rahn, Hannah
Snyder and Tim Wiser.