Refinancing plan could save district $3 million

Remig: $1 million more saved than original estimate

LEWISTOWN — The news is even better for a bond refinancing measure the Mifflin County School District is pursuing regarding 2009 general obligation bonds.

During Thursday’s committee-of-the-whole meeting of the Mifflin County School District Board of Directors, Brad Remig, managing director of the PFM Group of Harrisburg, was on hand to describe the progress on the refinancing the board OKed last month. During a meeting in October, Remig said he anticipated the district could save approximately $2 million by refinancing the bonds. Now that the process is underway, the board will be presented with a resolution on Nov. 17 to go ahead with the action and realize a savings of more than $3 million instead.

“You will now have $3.2 million less (to pay) on your bonds for the next 15 years,” Remig said. “That’s a huge savings. We got $1 million more in savings than we estimated last month.”

Remig said by combining this most recent refinancing with an earlier one in February, the board “has saved almost $10 million. I’ve been doing this since 1990 and I’ve never seen anything like this happen.”

Remig said the savings will come about by receiving a lower interest rate of 2.25 percent over the next 15 years.

Also on Thursday, Vance Varner, director of secondary education, led a discussion on facility use policies and forms after representatives from area youth football leagues came to the board Oct. 27 seeking a reduction on the fee to use Mitchell Field in Lewistown for its championship games.

Varner said instead of  inventing a new policy, he suggested the groups involved should just seek an exemption to the existing policy.

“I support putting the ball back to them,” Varner said. “Give us a price or ask us to lower to this amount and then the board can say up or down. That keeps the integrity of the policy and can’t open it up to everybody at this time. The board can always vote up or down on a case-by-case basis.”

Board member Robert Hammond commented, “I think the policy is pretty good. I wish the leaders of these teams would have gotten together beforehand. Now they’re coming back after the fact. They went ahead and used the facility at the price and then came back to ask for a reduction.”

Board President Mary Lou Sigler suggested the leagues come back and give the district a proposal. “Then someone can make a motion. If it passes, it passes,” she stated.

Varner added, “The policy is the policy. If there is an exemption to be made, it must be by a board majority. It has to be a case-by-case situation.”

In other business, Varner introduced the board to a proposed new program for high school seniors, called “flexible release program,” in which interested and qualified students can reduce their credits from six to five and either come to school later in the day or leave earlier in the day. Possible exceptions, Varner said, would be seniors that are enrolled at the Academy Co-Op, Mifflin County High School Co-Op, internships, advanced lab sciences and/or advanced placement sciences.

Varner said many seniors are taking classes just for the sake of filling out their schedules. Most of those classes aren’t needed to meet graduation requirements, he added. He said this program works in other school districts, including Mechanicsburg and Cumberland Valley.

Superintendent James Estep said this is nothing new.

“Six or seven years ago, I did some research on high school seniors,” he said. “This is not a new concept. Some places call it ‘open classes.’ You come in, take the classes you need, and go.”

Varner said students would not just be running through the streets.

“This is a carrot to dangle,” he said. “Kids would have to earn it. This would be a flex program that allows us to be more creative.”

Varner said if the board gives him the go ahead to pursue the matter further, he would need to conduct a survey of all 11th graders to gauge interest and the program would not be able to be implemented until the 2017-18 school year at the earliest.

Other agenda items to be voted on during the board’s Nov. 17 business meeting include:

¯A recommendation for Administration to move forward with “Flexible Release Program” for interested and qualified seniors at MCHS for School Year 2017-2018.

¯A Recommendation to approve of the 2016-2017 Daily Contracted Rates Comparison for student

transportation.

¯The addition of Angela D. Hartsock to the approved bus driver’s list for Fisher Brothers, Inc.

¯Recognition of the following school bus drivers with 25 years of service, all from ER Rhodes and Sons, Inc: Helen Goss,  Robert Penepacker and Julie Bearley.

¯The addition of Tammy Matthews to the event staff list.

¯The resignation of Layne S. Halfpenny, 3-hour cafeteria position at LES, effective Nov. 2.

¯The hiring of Tracy A. Shawver for the temporary full-time cafeteria position at MCMS effective Oct. 18, through the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year or less.

¯The addition of Ashley N. Crisswell to the Cafeteria Substitute List effective Nov. 4.

¯The hiring of Aaron Snook as full-time Custodian at MCHS effective Oct. 31.

¯The hiring of Daniel Foster Jr. as full-time Custodian at IVES effective Oct.31.

¯The hiring of Zachary Snyder as full-time Custodian at IVES effective Nov. 18.

¯The appointment of Amy L. Smith as Board Secretary at an annual stipend of $3,090, effective Dec. 16.

¯The addition of the following to the custodial substitute list effective Nov. 18: Richard Purcell Jr., James Stains, Garrett Neff and Craig Bickel.

¯Approval of the following volunteer coaches: Amanda Oliver, bowling; Anthony Vega, boys basketball; and Jeffrey Mazurek, tennis.

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