ShareThis Page

Leechburg Area OKs $7.5 million in financing to upgrade schools

| Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, 1:48 p.m.
Leechburg Area High School
Eric Felack | Tribune-Review
Leechburg Area High School

The plan to upgrade Leechburg Area School District facilities kicked into gear Wednesday, when the school board authorized a $7.5 million bond issue.

By an 8-0 vote with Jean Stull absent, the board gave RBC Capital Markets, the bond underwriter, the green light to prepare and market the bonds.

The bonds will finance renovations that school officials say are badly needed, including a new roof for the school campus — including the high school, middle school, David Leech Elementary School and the administration building, which all are connected.

In addition, the heating and air conditioning system, electrical system, wood shop, science and home economics labs will be renovated.

The board also approved an agreement with Axis Architecture PC that district Business Manager Brad Walker said allows Axis to starting seeking contract bids for the renovation work.

The new bonds will fold in existing debt from a previous bond issue that was set to expire in 2022.

But by refinancing at an interest rate projected Wednesday at 3.25 percent by Mike McCaig of RBC Capital Markets, the board will be able to keep the debt service level until the new issue ends in 2042.

Walker said the bond payments will be $500,000 a year.

Residents divided

Some residents have argued against renovating district buildings in favor of merging with neighboring districts because of costs.

Only two spoke Wednesday, including Bruce Altmeyer of Gilpin, who said he was tired of seeing his taxes raised every year.

Instead of improving buildings, he said the board should look at improving things such as the curriculum or look at merging.

Walker said that if the board did not undertake the renovations now they would have to be made at some point, at a likely higher cost.

Superintendent Tiffany Nix agreed that changes need to be made to improve the education program and that's already being done.

“We are about 75 percent of the way there,” she said.

“Are we done growing academically? Absolutely not,” Nix said. She invited Altmeyer to visit the schools.

“I applaud you for that,” Altmeyer said, “But do you think we could do it without raising my taxes every year?”

Nix replied: “We're sure going to try.”

Tom Yerace is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.