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State College Board to Consider New Debt for Memorial Field Improvements

on March 01, 2011 9:52 AM

The State College Area school board may soon decide whether to take on new debt for part of the Memorial Field overhaul.

Already, the district will need to issue nearly $15 million in new debt this year -- money that will help pay for the new Mount Nittany Elementary School and the expanded Ferguson Township Elementary School, district Business Administrator Jeffrey Ammerman told the board Monday.

As part of that debt issuance, Ammerman said, the board may want to add several million dollars in financing designated for the first phase of Memorial Field improvements. He said combining the debt-issuing transactions may bear some efficiencies of scale.

Tentatively, Ammerman said the board might look to add $5 million to the debt-issuing transaction, though it's not yet certain exactly how much the first-phase Memorial Field improvements may cost. Desired upgrades at the field are expected to cost $12.8 million to $14.9 million overall, but board members want to split the upgrades into phases -- to make them more affordable. Architects are working now on final schematics.

The first phase of work, to center on the stadium's west-side stands and immediate safety improvements there, is expected to be funded through district money. But board members have said they'd like later phases to be paid for through private fundraising. (The second phase alone, to include new bleachers and facilities on the field's east side, is projected to cost between $7 million and $8 million.)

Financial advisers presented a few different financing options to board members at the board's Monday meeting. They're expected to review and consider the ideas at later meetings this month.

Ammerman said the district paid about $5.9 million in debt service last year on current obligations; the district's total annual budget is about $113 million. Payments on current debt obligations are projected to range from about $2.6 million to $5.7 million a year from now until 2028.

In other news at the Monday board meeting:

  • Jason Perrin, assistant to the superintendent, said two of four public meetings on elementary-school redistricting have been held. The other two are scheduled for this week. He said the gatherings have been very useful in soliciting families' input -- input that will help guide the district's discussions as it weighs the redistricting process, Perrin said. The board may finalize a redistricting plan by the end of this month, board member Chris Small said. Board President Ann McGlaughlin affirmed that "redistricting of some sort is going to happen," though several parents appeared before the board to express concerns with the process. One parent, Kim Faulds, implored the board not to reduce the teaching staff at Corl Street Elementary, asking members to "worry about the money later" and to "keep Corl Street strong." Earlier coverage of the redistricting issue is posted here.
  • The board reviewed a evaluation template to be used as the district reviews programs for modification or reductions. District officials said it's possible that some electives at the high school level may be cut for the next school year. Any such decisions will be made before the end of this school year, they said. Stressed financial conditions are expected to bring several million dollars in district expense cuts for the 2011-2012 year.
  • McGlaughlin said the district expects to review applications for its open superintendent position in the near future. The superintendent search is going into a quiet phase for the next month or so, she said. She said more details will be made available in April, and that the public will be invited to events related to the search.

Earlier coverage

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