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EACS moving closer to requesting $2 million bond for repairs

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 6:23 am

East Allen County Schools is moving closer to bringing a request for a $2 million General Obligation bond to its board for a vote.

The possible bond has been discussed at the past two board meetings, including Tuesday night's, as Kirby Stahly, the district's business manager, has detailed for the board why the district feels it necessary: ongoing maintenance at some schools that the district's capital finance fund simply cannot handle for work that needs to be done.

Stahly had presented to the board on Sept. 3 that the GO bond would give the district "breathing room" over the next three years, which is the amount of time he said the district would take to repay the bond with a half-payment in 2014, full payments in 2015 and 2016, and another half-payment in 2017.

In the face of skepticism from some board members about whether the practice of using the bonds is reasonable and if it would become an ongoing practice, Stahly said Tuesday that "I would not plan on bringing back a GO bond before this one is paid for," adding that he doesn't believe in overlapping bonds.

Christopher Baker, the board's vice president, noted that New Haven Elementary was the focus of some of the repairs that would be covered by the bond and said that before any decision is made, the district should actually attempt to determine which buildings would be utilized in the future.

In requesting whether to continue in planning to request the bond, an informal poll was taken from the board members, and it appeared that, despite concerns, it could pass.

"I believe that (EACS Director of Facilities) Doug Roemer knows these buildings...better than the seven of us," said board member Bob Nelson, explaining that might be the reason that he would support a bond, while another board member was even more pragmatic.

"You never say never and you never say always," said board member Bill Hartman, offering his thoughts about whether or not EACS should consider using the bond alternative, while it was noted that no one on the board could remember the last time the district actually used one.

The vote could be taken during the district's next meeting on Oct. 1.

Also Tuesday, Stahly explained to the board that the district's search for a health-care provider had yielded no change from his report from the Sept. 3 meeting: The Lutheran Health Network's 11 percent difference in its bid for a five-year contract with the district is tangible and could lead the district to request from the board authorization to switch for current contract holder Parkview/Signature Health.

Stahly said Tuesday that Parkview had declined to submit a revised proposal, which the board had asked Stahly to seek in order to prevent any possible disruption that might come with a network switch. Stahly had told the district that the savings per year for the district, as defined by the 11 percent difference over the last three years, would amount to more than $809,000 per year. If the board authorizes a switch, the contract with Lutheran Health Network would begin Jan. 1.

The board also approved the district to move forward with the process to sell Harlan Elementary, with Stahly saying that the district had at least two suitors for the building and its roughly 18 acres on which it sits.