Franklin Regional OKs $35 million bond sale for Sloan Elementary project | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Franklin Regional OKs $35 million bond sale for Sloan Elementary project

Patrick Varine
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Colten Oakes photo
Franklin Regional officials held a groundbreaking for the Sloan elementary project on Wednesday, July 31, 2019. The project will see the construction of a new elementary for grades 3 to 5, and the renovation of Sloan Elementary into a school for children in kindergarten through second grade.
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VEBH Architects
Above, an architectural rendering of the upper elementary building proposed for the Sloan campus.

The Franklin Regional School Board agreed to issue up to $35 million in bonds to fund the bulk of the Sloan “elementary campus” project, the same week that the district will be in court to face a group opposed to the plan.

The project includes construction of a new elementary school on the Sloan property, off Sardis Road in Murrysville, to house third- through fifth-graders, as well as the renovation of the existing Sloan building into a revamped school for students in kindergarten through second grade.

The school board voted Monday to authorize a bond sale two days before a Common Pleas Court hearing in which a community group, the “Sloan Project Concerned Citizens,” is seeking to appeal Murrysville council’s approval of the project. The school district is a party to the appeal.

The case is scheduled to be heard Wednesday at the courthouse in Greensburg.

Board members began approving bond issues for the project in late 2017. At that time, an official from PFM Financial Advisors proposed that the district issue a $23.65 million bond in 2019, when the bulk of construction work and spending would take place.

The proposed maximum bond amount of $35 million adds about $12 million onto PFM’s initial recommendation, although district Financial Services Director Jon Perry said the actual amount the district anticipates borrowing is closer to $29 million.

“It establishes maximum parameters for the principal borrowed,” Perry told school board members. “And it allows for flexibility when the bond is actually structured.”

Perry said the current market is a “very advantageous environment for issuing debt.”

With a maximum interest rate of 5.5 percent, the bond would be paid back over 30 years according to a payment schedule provided to school board members and the public, with the final payment coming in May 2050.

The annual payments range from just over $960,000 in an interest-only payment scheduled for May 2020, to a peak payment of $2.75 million in May 2024.

Both Perry and solicitor Gary Matta cited a lot of arbitrary movement in the bond market during the first two weeks of August.

“With it being a volatile time right now, we’d like to try and do this at the most favorable (interest) rate possible,” Matta told the board, which voted unanimously to authorize the bond sale.

Over the life of the bond, the projected average annual payment is about $2.2 million.

In total, the Sloan project is estimated to cost about $54 million — the board awarded $48.62 million in contracts for the project in June — not including the costs of financing the project over three decades.

Below, see a brief history of the project:

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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