When: Manheim Central school board meeting Oct. 12.
What happened: The board discussed possible project options and financing to renovate Manheim Central High School.
Why it’s important: Last December, the board approved a high school renovation project not to exceed $44 million. Officials announced a delay in January to take advantage of potential reimbursement of some costs. The project was then put on hold in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic and potential budget shortfalls.
Renovation options: Superintendent Pete Aiken said there are two possibilities for the renovation. One option would bring central air to the high school and make necessary repairs such as replacing the roof for $20 million. The second option would be the full renovation project costing between $40 million and $44 million. Board member Mike Clair said he would like to stick with the full renovation project that was previously approved. Board Vice President Rob Iosue said he would like to see information from Crabtree Rohrbaugh & Associates about possibly phasing the project over an extended period with the focus on installing air conditioning and making necessary repairs first.
Quotable: “There’s a very real possibility the economy could go south (because of the pandemic). I’m concerned about starting a project that would require tax increases to finance it, and how that would affect our residents if the economy does take a hit,” Iosue said.
Financing: Lauren Stadel of RBC Capital Markets said over the past few months interest rates have fallen dramatically. She presented options for financing the high school renovation project. One option would be to take out a $10 million bond or loan in December and then a $30 million bond in September 2021. If the board were to choose to scale the project back to a $20 million project, a $10 million bond or loan could be taken out in December and then another $10 million in September 2021.
Refinancing bonds: Stadel also suggested refinancing two existing bonds to take advantage of lower interest rates. A 2015 bond has about $10 million remaining on it, as does a 2017 bond. Refinancing those two bonds would save about $140,000 per year in debt service.
What’s next: The board will take action on refinancing the two bonds at the Oct. 26 meeting. Information on the high school renovation project will also be presented.
Athletic plan: The board approved a revised athletic health and safety plan. It allows for spectators at 20% capacity at both indoor and outdoor venues. Spectators must wear face coverings and observe social distancing of greater than 6 feet.
Spectators: High School principal Joshua Weitzel said the plan to allow spectators at both indoor and outdoor athletic events has been running smoothly. He said for the most part spectators have been complying with the requirements for social distancing and wearing face coverings.