CLAY CITY-- On Thursday night, the Clay Community School Corporation school board held a special information session for the public to discuss the proposed renovation project.
Several community members attended the meeting at Clay City Jr./Sr. High School.
After a greeting from School Board President Terry Barr, representatives from Schmidt Associates and City Securities gave a presentation on the proposed projects and financing.
Immediately following the presentation, members of the audience were given three minutes each to comment or ask questions.
Tom Neff from Schmidt Associates began the presentation with the overall goals to the project; to bring all facilities to an equal operating level and to not raise the tax rate.
The presentation given on Thursday outlined the proposed work on each of the corporation's 10 schools, corporate office, and bus garage.
The $53 million dollar project would try to model the elementary schools in the corporation after Jackson Township Elementary School.
Jackson Township Elementary went through a renovation and addition project in 2002.
Jackson Township would receive the least amount of renovation, including new sewers connections and outside masonry.
Clay City Elementary, Forest Park Elementary, and Van Buren Elementary would not receive additions, only renovations.
Staunton Elementary, Meridian Elementary, and East Side Elementary would have new construction as well as renovation of current facilities.
North Clay Middle School and Clay City Jr./Sr. High School would be renovated only, with North Clay's renovations already in process.
Northview High School would receive a 34,000 square foot addition that would include six to eight classrooms, including science labs.
The project also proposes replacing the bus garage and corporation's central office, as renovation was not deemed possible.
Every school would have a security vestibule installed to direct visitors into the administrative office of the building.
Plumbing, lighting, and mechanical updates are proposed for all schools, with roof repair or replacement suggested for most.
Damien Maggos from City Financial presented the options that were discussed for financing the project.
Three options were given, with bonds being issued in increments of five, two, or a one-time issue.
The first option, a five-time issue, would require $77.5 million dollars in bonds, $11.5 million dollars in interest, and a repayment time of 17 years.
The downside to this plan would mean almost a doubled debt service rate for the community's taxes.
The second option would split the bond issues into two, one being $26.5 million dollars and the second being $44.8 million dollars.
This option would take 23 years to repay the $71 million dollars in bonds and $24 million dollars in interest, but there would be no increase in tax on community.
The option that the board and its advisors selected as the most attractive would be a one-time issue of $53 million dollars.
The bond would take 23 years to repay, with $31.2 million dollars in interest. There would also be no increase in community taxes.
The estimates are made upon today's interest rate of 4.5 percent.
To end the presentation, Maggos described how the bond would be very attractive to sellers because the debt would be less than ten percent of available funds.
Also, the bond would receive the state's highest rating, AA, because the bond's yearly payments could be covered at least two times over by state aid.
Six members of the community made statements after the presentation.
Jeff Bell, Principal of Clay City Jr./Sr. High School spoke about the school facilities providing a sense of pride in the community.
He also said that the security of his students leads to a more conduce learning environment, which helps teachers and students achieve their goals.
Leo Southworth requested that the board only make renovations that are absolutely necessary.
"Please do the right thing the right way," said Southworth.
Marshall Nuckolls spoke on behalf of the Clay County Farm Bureau.
On Aug. 28, the Farm Bureau filled out surveys on the renovation project.
The result from the Bureau's survey was overwhelming disapproval for the project.
Of the 84 responses, 82 said they were not in favor of the project.
Jack Knust said, "We just need to do this the right way. We pay the school board -- they need to get a fund set up. We don't need to get bonds."
A consistent theme from the speakers was that the teachers contract needed to be completed before a building project began.
The last of the speakers was Jackson Township Elementary Principal Jeff Fritz.
Fritz detailed the results of the 2002 renovation project. He said that morale has improved, as well as the additional rooms available have been used for ISTEP testing.
"It's a very attractive, very usable school. It's nothing elaborate. We went without for so long," said Fritz, "It helps every part of our school: Instruction, public relations, and saftey."
After the input from the community, Tom Reberger gave an overview of the process of determining what needed to be done.
He said that the original list of renovations would have been $60 million. After discovering that anything over $53 million would increase taxes, cuts were made.
"We didn't say, 'how much can we spend without raising taxes,'" said Reberger.
He said it was about, "what we can get by with $53 million."
Barr thanked the participants and audience for coming, and gave a reminder for the next meeting.
The next special session of the school board is at 6:30 p.m. next Thursday at North Clay Middle School.