First Posted: 9/18/2013
UNION TWP. — The Northwest Area School Board affirmed Wednesday night that it is going to finance, through a bond issue, $3 million in equipment purchases, renovations and repairs to its school buildings and related infrastructure.
The vote on the package, which including legal costs, insurance and other documentation fees will actually be $3.26 million, was 7-2, a two-thirds majority.
School directors Albert Gordon and Alton Farver cast no votes. Voting yes were Chairman Randy Tomasacci and directors Gerald Conger, Peter Lanza, Daryl Morgan, Ralph Killian, Gina Schwartz and Michael Kreidler.
Gordon said his vote stems from concern about the financing package driving projected tax increases in 2014-15 above the state-stipulated index and, in his view, a smaller amount (he has stated $2.5 million) could be borrowed.
Farver said he is concerned about the cost of repayment in the face of rising costs.
The bond issue will be through PNC Bank. David Payne of PNC said the district has been given an “A-Stable” rating by Standard & Poors.
Payne said the district has also benefited from action by the Federal Reserve in bringing down interest rates, estimating that because of decisions by the Fed, Northwest stands to save $267,000 the during current 30-day period.
Albert Melone, financial officer for the school district, said another bank, 1st Keystone Bank of Berwick, made an offer of a 10-year mortgage at an interest rate of 3.2 percent, but Melone added that a decision was made that “a bond issue is the way to go.”
There was no action on First Keystone’s offer.
During the public comment, a Hunlock Creek couple, who declined to have their names published, complained to the board about their son being bullied by another student. They said he has undergone physical attacks, as well as being threatened with an assault by a weapon, but when their son retaliated recently, he was suspended from school for one day.
The couple asked for an investigation by school officials. Tomasacci asked Joseph Rasmus, elementary school principal, and Superintendent Ronald Grevera to review the case and consider some disciplinary action.
In other matters, Grevera reported that an additional 250 computers have been installed district wide.
Farver expressed concern about drivers not abiding by laws that restrict the passing of school buses. He said it is a serious safety issue.
Tomasacci said police surveillance of buses will be sought. “There will be prosecution,” he said.
During discussion about charter cyber school, Grevera said that the number of district students taking cyber classes has decreased from 50 in 2012-13 to 39 this term. The district’s tabulation of September payables list a $41,403 payment to Agora Cyber; $10,238 to Pa. Cyber Charter and $7,445 to Pa. Leadership Charter.