State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

School Board Hears Costs for One High School Option, Talks Second Community Forum

by on February 26, 2013 7:04 AM

The potential cost of building two new high schools in the State College Area School District is coming sharply into focus. At last night's school board meeting, Ed Poprik, Director of Physical Plant, told the board the projected cost falls within the range of $153.9 million to $160.8 million.

The cost estimates were revealed as Poprik updated the board on a number of options, including financing. Overall, the goal is to balance financial resources to keep costs as low as possible. A voter referendum is set for November and will determine whether the board moves ahead with the high school project. 

The most expensive plan is called 'Option F'. That option would create two entirely new, separate high schools. One would be on the south side of Westerly Parkway and the other would be built on a new site, yet to be determined. Both schools would house grades nine through 12, Poprik said. "This option, in terms of construction costs, is going to cost out as as most expensive because of square footage," Poprik said. 

Community members will hear more about the costs at a second community forum which is set for Thursday evening. This time residents get a first hand look at the issue. Students will lead tours of the North and South buildings Thursday night beginning at 5:30 p.m. The community forum follows at 7 p.m. 

Also at last night's meeting, the board authorized the district administration to pursue bond refunding. Discussed at an earlier meeting and again on Monday night, the district has an opportunity to save money by advance refunding a portion of outstanding bonds.

This opportunity is a result of what district officials called 'historically' low interest rates. Several refunding options are available to the district.

The board unanimously authorized the district administration to work with financial advisors to pursue potential refunding. If refunding goes through it could save the district over $450,000. School officials say most of the savings would be seen over the next three years. The savings will help pay for capital projects in the district.

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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