Bond issue to pay for Mifflin County Junior High renovations approved by school board

LEWISTOWN – The renovation project for the Mifflin County Junior High School received its final green light Thursday when the Mifflin County School District Board of Directors adopted a resolution authorizing the issuance of $9,995,000 of general obligation bonds to pay for the start of the project.

Brad Remig, managing director of the Public Finance Group, told board members that interest rates for repaying the bonds have actually fallen a bit since his last appearance in September.

“That’s good news for you,” Remig remarked. “The rates fell 0.4 percent since September, so the numbers are definitely better.”

In order to complete funding for the project, Remig said he will be back next year to seek the board’s authorization for another bond issue in the amount of $7.5 million. Total cost of the project was estimated at just over $16 million when the board approved bids during a special meeting Nov. 14.

Remig said the district’s bonds are very attractive to investors because of an excellent track record.

“Your credit report deems you stable,” Remig pointed out. “I have a lot of clients that don’t have that rating. Being stable makes the bonds more attractive to investors. This report is given to potential investors so it’s very positive when you go to sell these bonds.”

Remig said the bonds will come with a 3.4 percent interest rate to be paid back over a period of 20 years. Those figures reflect an annual payment of approximately $200,000 by the district.

Thursday’s resolution approves the sale of the bonds at a locked-in interest rate, as well as authorizing other actions necessary to proceed with the issuance of the bonds.

The resolution passed by an 8-1 margin, with director Beth Laughlin casting the lone dissenting vote.

In other business Thursday, four members of the board were recognized for their service as their terms are coming to a close.

Board President Walter Harpster, who along with members Kirk Rager, Travis Parkes and James Hurlburt, are leaving the board, read a statement thanking his fellow members and the community for giving him the opportunity to serve for the past eight years.

“It has truly been a privilege to have served with so many conscientious supporters of our public school system,” Harpster said. “For those who have never served in this capacity, I can tell you it has been a tremendous challenge and a tremendous learning process. During the past four years alone in the aftermath of our national economic crisis, we have labored to make some very difficult choices in order to preserve our system and put ourselves back on a fiscal path that will help sustain us down the road.”

Harpster then listed several accomplishments during the last eight years, including hiring a new superintendent, closing six buildings, merging the two high schools successfully, ongoing building renovation projects and numerous personnel decisions.

“Shortly,” Harpster continued, “it will be someone else’s turn to sit in these seats, and knowing what it’s like to sit here, I want to thank each of the new incoming board members for the willingness to take on this challenging, but wonderful role.”

In other business, the board approved:

The 2014-15 school calendar. The calendar calls for students to return to the classroom next year on August 21. The last day of school is scheduled for May 22, 2015.

A change order with the McClure Company for installation of four control valves on boiler hot water piping and installation of a 3-way control valve on additional hot water piping in the amount of $9,109.64.

A resolution to request sealed bids for the purchase of the former Strodes Mills Middle School building and land on which it sits. Also, a resolution to request sealed bids for the purchase of unused and unnecessary land adjacent to the same building. Both resolutions were passed by a 5-4 vote. Those voting in favor were Harpster, Rager, Hurlburt, Parkes and Kristin Sharp. Those voting against were Laughlin, Mary Lou Sigler, Dr. Ruth Armstrong and Annemarie Swineford.

A recommendation to name David Haubrick lead custodian at Lewistown Intermediate School effective Oct. 21.

A recommendation to hire Sue Fluke and Tracy Bastress as part-time custodians effective Nov. 11.

The retirement of Gregory Sherlock, custodian at Mifflin County Junior High School, effective Jan. 2.

The hiring of Lorraine Ritchey for a part-time cafeteria position at Mifflin County Middle School effective Nov. 4.

The hiring of Patricia Bumgardner to a part-time cafeteria position at Lewistown Elementary School.

A recommendation to add Tracie Force to the cafeteria substitute list.

The following deletions to the cafeteria substitute list: Pamela Grassmyer, Louise Daubert, Beth Bretz and Jamie Macknair.

The resignation of Kevin O’Donnell, fifth grade teacher at Indian Valley Intermediate School, effective Dec. 13, due to relocation.

Approval of Larry Denlinger as a bus driver for J&D’s.

The following teacher retirements effective at the end of the current school year: M. Elizabeth Knepp, fifth grade at Lewistown Intermediate; Tina Goss, third grade at East Derry Elementary; and Vicki Reis, Title 1 math at East Derry Elementary.

The retirement of Deborah Auker, third grade teacher at Lewistown Elementary, effective Nov. 4.

The resignation of Jill Daubert, answering service, effective Nov. 8.

The hiring of Gretchen Miller as a learning support teacher with the Alpha Program, effective Oct. 30.

A recommendation that Karen McCurdy serve as a mentor to Gretchen Miller.

The hiring of Betsy Olson as a part-time paraprofessional at Mifflin County High School.

The following additions to the teacher substitute list: Jessica Butler, elementary; Eric Ettinger, emergency; James Hartley-Arnold, emergency; Sherry Kincel, emergency; and Stana Stewart, health and phys ed.

The following deletions from the teacher substitute list: Ashley Dunmire and Daniel Barton.

The hiring of Jerold Schnell as junior high softball coach for the 2014 season.

The hiring of Jennifer Ashcraft as first assistant softball coach for the 2014 season.

Gretchen Miller as a volunteer swim coach for the 2013-14 school year.