CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield Area School District Board of Directors voted to approve the final sale of bonds for capital improvements, including the Clearfield Area High School and Clearfield Elementary School, in the amount of $9,365,000 at its meeting Wednesday night.
The sale is the last in a series of four bond issues that the school board has approved to finance the $36 million renovation and expansion at the CHS and a $10.6 million renovation and expansion project at the CES.
Jamie Doyle of Public Financial Management, the district’s financial advisor in Harrisburg, reported the district received four bids from three, different bidders. She said that Janney Montgomery Scott registered as the low bidder with a true interest cost of just more than 4.23 percent, which she recommended the school board approve with a settlement date of Jan. 9, 2014.
According to her, the district saw great results during the competitive bond sale. She said interest rates are still below average but aren’t any longer at all-time lows as before. Doyle also reported the district had received an A1 underlying rating from Moody’s Investors Service, as well as an Aa3 enhanced rating for the bond series of 2014.
She said the district’s A1 rating reflected its satisfactory financial position, modest tax base and manageable elevated debt burden. She said its Aa3 rating reflected the additional security provided to the bonds by the Pennsylvania School District Fiscal Agent Agreement Intercept Program. This, she said, was a pre-default state aid intercept program created in the event of a potential failure by the district to pay timely debt service.
When looking at her records from 2010 and 2011, Doyle said the district had originally expected a millage equivalent as high as 7.8 mills. However, she said it’s registered well below that at 4.85 mills, which is mostly due to the low interest rates the district has locked in over the past couple of years.
Also, the district originally expected its debt service to increase by approximately $700,000 annually, said Business Administrator Sam Maney. He indicated it has only increased by $500,000 annually since undertaking the district’s building projects. The interest rate, he said, was a savings of about $200,000 annually.
During his report, Charles Knauff, construction administrator for the high school project, said that over the holidays, the district moved approximately 27 classrooms, offices and conference rooms. He indicated that it went smoothly and was in order to accommodate the next phase of the high school project.
According to him, science and family consumer science classrooms are currently being occupied at the high school. Renovations, he said, have started to the first/second floor wing at the back of the school; demolition work has also started in the back of the school’s auditorium.
Knauff said that once the new gymnasium’s floor has been installed, they will begin painting it. Bleachers, he said, will be installed Dec. 16, which he hopes will put them at moving into the new gymnasium by mid-January. After its completion, Knauff said they will begin the renovations to the current gymnasium.
The substantial completion date for the high school renovation and expansion project is April 3. The final completion date is May 3, according to Knauff. However, he said it’s too early to determine if they will actually have everything completed by the date provided in the contract.
Superintendent Terry Struble reported that construction is under way and on schedule at the CES. He said they’re currently looking for ways to advance the project over the summer, so that teachers can get into the classrooms before August.