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EACS board approves $2 million General Obligation bond for school maintenance

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - 5:30 am

Some East Allen County Schools will get needed maintenance courtesy of a $2 million General Obligation bond.

The authorization for the bond was approved during Tuesday's meeting of the district's board; it passed 4-2, with Christopher Baker and Bob Nelson voting against the measure. Arden Hoffman was not present to vote.

The bond has been an ongoing topic this fall, with business manager Kirby Stahly explaining at multiple board meetings how the bond would be repaid and why it was needed. The bond would be used for work at Cedarville and Southwick elementaries, New Haven High School, New Haven Intermediate School, New Haven Elementary and other facilities.

Previous presentations to the board indicate that the bond will be repaid over three years, with a half-payment in 2014, full payments in 2015 and 2016, and another half-payment in 2017. Stahly said on Tuesday that the maximum interest rate on the bond would be 5 percent, with a likely effective rate of 1 percent.

During a public hearing about the bond, one speaker questioned the necessity of the bond and the wisdom of the district asking for more money after deciding not to switch health providers to Lutheran Health from Parkview, which had previously been described at board meetings as a less expensive option -- a question Nelson agreed was a good one, though he explained that the funding sources of the two are different. The capital projects fund is separate from the general fund, which pays out salaries and benefits for the district.

"I try to see the bigger picture with these things," Nelson said. "I don't question the need for repairs to the buildings. But the timing is awful. This...it makes people question because of the timing, and that's something that needs to be considered. Because at some point, we are going to have to go back to the public for a referendum for more work."

Voters in the district soundly rejected the last referendum that was requested, in 2012. Only 36 percent of voters supported the request for $89 million in funding.

Also on Tuesday, Judge Daniel Heath of the Allen Superior Court's Family Relations Division spoke to the board and requested the district partner with the court and apply for a grant that would help address truancy and mentoring, with Heath explaining that his research has led him to believe that there is a direct link between future criminal activity and truancy.

"It is a shame that it takes a spike in crime to do this," Heath said.

The board approved the request, and the deadline for the district to apply for a portion of $3.1 million is Nov. 19.