Local, regional schools granted bond authorityAging roofs, old boilers and a school in need of demolition may not be so much of a problem anymore for the Freeman School District. The district is one of 13 in South Dakota that will be receiving part of $29 million in bonding authority to raise funds for construction or rehabilitation projects. The opportunity comes from Qualified School Construction Bonds, a new financial instrument created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
By: Austin Kaus, The Daily Republic
Aging roofs, old boilers and a school in need of demolition may not be so much of a problem anymore for the Freeman School District.
The district is one of 13 in South Dakota that will be receiving part of $29 million in bonding authority to raise funds for construction or rehabilitation projects. The opportunity comes from Qualified School Construction Bonds, a new financial instrument created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The Freeman School District has been allotted $2.7 million bonding authority. Other area districts given the opportunity include Mitchell School District and the Hanson School District, with $2.5 million and $330,000, respectively, in bonding authority.
School districts in Aberdeen, Custer, Gettysburg, Groton, Highmore-Harrold, Tri-Valley, Vermillion, Warner, Wolsey-Wessington and Yankton also were approved.
Freeman Superintendent Don Hotchkiss said notification came as a relief, since the district faces a number of projects.
“The timing just turned out really well for us and we’re pretty fortunate to have that come through for us,” Hotchkiss said. “It kind of fell into place.”
Hotchkiss said the money will be used to demolish the aged Freeman Elementary building and cover $82,584 in extra costs associated with the installation of a geothermal energy system at the new Freeman Elementary School.
The money also will help replace boilers and rooftop climate control units, as well as to retrofit lighting units and repair the school’s parking lot.
Replacing the 1941 stadium at Joe Quintal Field will be the target of a potential $2.5 million in bond money for Mitchell, said Superintendent Joe Graves — assuming someone purchasing interest-free bonds in a down economy.
The construction bonds give lenders tax credits in lieu of interest payments. The interest-free loans would have an average payback of 13 years
“There’s a sense among the feds and others that the day is coming when the bonds will be very marketable and we’ll be able to do it,” said Graves. “But we’re just kind of waiting at this point. We still have a lot more to do on the Quintal Field project.”
If the bonds are sold they must be used for the stadium project, since the application was specific to that plan, said Graves. If naming rights can be sold, the district would only require half the needed amount.
If the naming rights cannot be sold and the entire $2.5 million bond offering is picked up, the offering could cover the entire cost of a new stadium.
There’s no urgency at this point, said Graves.
“But the good news is that this is definitely a step in the right direction.”
A press release from the state Department of Education reported that 24 districts applied for the bonding authority. The DOE said it will allocate the 2010 bonding authority to the remaining 11 South Dakota school districts, as soon as it becomes available.