When: Conestoga Valley school board meeting, March 14, with board members Brad Dillman and Philip Hurst absent.
What happened: Scott Kramer of Raymond James Public Finance gave an update on financing a portion of the funds needed for the renovation of Leola Elementary School and the renovation of the existing middle school to become Smoketown Elementary. The district doesn’t have final numbers, as the project just went out to bid, but officials expect the cost for both projects to be around $30 million with approximately $24 million financed.
Background: Because interest rates are expected to rise within the next six months, the district should keep the borrowing process moving, so it can lock in advantageous interest rates, Kramer said. Conestoga Valley’s strong credit rating should help attract lower interest rates, he added.
What’s next: The final amount the district needs to borrow will be finalized within the next month when the district receives bids for the two projects. The district plans to lock in interest rates by April 25 and complete the financing process in May.
Bilingual assessment: Chief Finance and Operations Officer Phyllis Heverly Flesher presented a contract for bilingual testing to assess employees’ proficiency in languages other than English. If employees pass the tests, the district will add 50 cents to their hourly pay rate. These employees will then be able to serve as interpreters between the district and non-English speaking families. The cost for one live oral proficiency interview in Spanish is $95. The board will approve the contract via the consent agenda at the March 21 meeting.
Track renovation: Director of Operations Ken Johnson presented a $19,665 proposal from Turf, Track & Court LLC, a company that will prepare bid documents and oversee the renovation of the district’s track. Board member Michael Talley questioned whether the renovation was needed. Heverly Flesher reminded board members that they voted to approve the project in January. However, the district hasn’t moved forward yet, so the board could change the vote, she said. President Idette Groff told Talley that in the past preventative work on the track has saved money in the long run.
Quotable: “Although I’m concerned about what the final cost may be because nowadays you never know what anything’s going to end up costing, adding 15 years to the track is huge,” she said. “A dime now saves a dollar later.”
What’s next: Talley requested the board have a discussion at a future meeting about the cost of the renovation, which was estimated at $330,000 in January.