2009-11-05 / Front Page

Forbes Road Reviews Financing Options

No action taken following meeting with financial consultant
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Forbes Road School Board and administrators had a sitdown with their financial consultant Monday evening to pursue what financing options are currently available to the district that could ultimately result in taxpayer savings.

By meeting with consultant Gordon Walker, acting Superintendent Fred Foster noted the board was meeting two objectives, which included clarifying the district’s existing debt service and discussing refinancing options.

Walker presented a series of refinancing options dealing with the district’s 2002 and 2004 bond series and pointed out there are savings to be had unless interest rates take a jump.

The district’s bonds reportedly started in 2002 when rates were listed in the “ones.” Those figures dropped additionally before rates started to climb in 2004 and 2005, according to Walker, who added rates peaked in 2006 before decreasing again in 2007 and 2008. A three-week spike associated with troubles on Wall Street was also recorded in September 2008.

Walker indicated utilizing a wraparound structure to ease taxpayer burden, debt service is again slated to jump in 2021. “Options are typically to convert or not to convert,” said the consultant. “Fortunately you have more options.”

He further noted the district could convert to a fixed rate, but the venture would prove to be expensive with a five-year ability to prepay at 4.138 percent. “Frankly, I would not convert if I was on the board. I would stick with a variable rate that has only gone as high as 9 percent to date ... You’ve saved a ton of money,” said Walker, of the board’s prior decision to use a variable rate.

Walker offered to continue monitoring the district’s bond series and concluded he believed the district was in “good shape” at this time. No action was taken by the board following Walker’s presentation.

In other financial issues addressed on November 2, the board unanimously approved on a 7-0 roll-call vote to obtain a line of credit with F&M Trust. Board members Kirby Shoemaker and Teressa Bard were unable to attend the meeting. Superintendent Foster stated even though the line of credit for $1 million was approved, it does not commit the district to spend the funds at a rate of 5.25 percent.

A transportation agreement was signed with Robert Figard, who will be providing winter and spring athletic runs at a per mile rate of $1.72. Figard’s hourly layover rate was simultaneously set at $7.25.

Under the category of personnel, the following individuals were added to the professional substitute list after completing emergency certification through Tuscarora Intermediate Unit #11: Austin Curfman, Winter Decker, Michael Fouse, James Harvey, Hope Moore and Carolyn Stermer. In addition, Stacy Horne was added to the same list with certification in elementary education.

Wallace Taylor was added to the custodial substitute list, and high school reading teacher Robin Whitsel was given the title of “transition coordinator.”

Additional duties as outlined by the administration to the board were approved for school psychologist Philip Wilson. Wilson will complete the extra tasks at no additional charge to the district.

Virginia Haubert was appointed to the position of “educational consultant” with a 7 1/2 day supplemental contract. Haubert’s fee of $1,960.36 will be covered through previously approved CFF grant funding.

Corey Doyle was granted permission to serve as an unpaid volunteer boys basketball coach.

Homebound instruction was granted for a high school student retroactive to October 6 under the area of curriculum.

High school Principal Christina Ramsey reported that teacher Randy Gelvin travelled to Harrisburg for two days last week to help prepare the biology section of the newly created Keystone Exam for graduating seniors. Gelvin was one of two teachers selected from the entire county, said Ramsey, who added only 20 teachers were chosen from the 200 overall applicants to aid in the test creation.

Ramsey further said an interest survey was sent out to both staff and students to determine interest in starting a performing arts club. A total of 46 students and 13 faculty members have expressed interest to date.

The high school band and chorus are scheduled to visit Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh on December 11. Cost to the district is an estimated $420 for transportation.

The district will be working with Methodist Church Pastor Betty Secrest on supporting a local food bank.

Fifth- and sixth-grade students will be participating in the Adopt-A-Highway program this week, elementary Principal Byron Helsel reported in his administrative report.

Building and grounds matters approved include a request from Justin Shotts and Adam Fogal to use the old gymnasium for alumni basketball from November through the final week of February as coordinated and approved by athletic director Brown Cutchall.

On behalf of Forbes Road Youth Baseball, a request submitted by Pete Hall was approved for the addition of a fence to the upper softball/baseball field as well as dugouts. The Forbes Road Lions Club is slated to fund the construction plans.

Building and grounds supervisor John Mixell reported the high school’s arsenic system is up and running with sampling completed in late October. The district is currently awaiting results of the testing. Mixell stated the system was required by the Department of Environmental Protection, but a magnesium removal system was also added in hopes of alleviating problems in the cafeteria.

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