Northampton Press

Friday, January 24, 2020

NASD directors approve project finances

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in School

Bonds amount for next phase of new Lehigh Elementary is $9,400,000

The refinancing of bonds has been approved by Northampton Area School District Board of Education for the continued construction of the new Lehigh Elementary School.

The school board voted unanimously 9-0 at the Nov. 11 meeting to approve the issuance of bonds for the next financial phase of the school project following a presentation by Jamie Doyle, managing director at PFM Financial Advisors LLC, district financial consulting firm. The project is financed through a series of general obligation bonds.

The vote authorizes the administration to work with PFM Financial Advisors for the issuance of general obligation bonds, series of 2020, in the approximate amount of $9,400,000 for the next phase of the new Lehigh Elementary School project.

The $9,400,000 is “new money,” as Doyle put it, toward the $35,788,356 Lehigh Elementary project at 800 Blue Mountain Drive, Walnutport.

The board vote also authorized the administration to work with PFM Financial Advisors, in conjunction with the issuance of general obligation bonds, series A of 2020, which will be used to refund all or a portion of the outstanding 2012A bonds, as well as series AA of 2020, which will be used to refund all or a portion of the outstanding 2015 bonds. There is a minimum net savings target of $75,000 for the 2020A bonds and $150,000 for the 2020AA bonds.

“It’s good timing as we set new all-time-low interest rates,” Doyle said. “The interest rates have wiggled around a bit. Interest rates look great in the big picture.”

Doyle said the financing is midway in the bank-qualified plan for the project.

“We’re simply replacing the old debt at lower rates,” Doyle said. “The market is really cooperating nicely.”

The 2012A bonds are expected to provide the district a $108,000 net savings. The 2020A and 2020AA bonds are expected to provide the district with a $243,000 net savings.

The bonds could go out for bid anytime after Dec. 16, it was mentioned. The rates for the 2012A bonds could be locked in as of Jan. 6, 2020.

The school board previously voted 8-0, with one school director absent, at the Jan. 14 meeting to issue general obligation bonds, series of 2019, in the aggregate principal amount of $9,640,000 to fund a portion of the Lehigh Elementary School project and other capital projects. The first bonds, series of 2018, for $9,980,000, were issued in May 2018.

In other business, school directors heard a nearly one-hour presentation on the proposed Northampton Area High School program of studies, which school directors took under advisement for consideration. A vote on approving the program is possible at an upcoming board meeting.

NASD Superintendent of Schools Joseph S. Kovalchik congratulated school directors who were re-elected in the Nov. 5 general election: Robert Mentzell, Dr. Michael Baird, John Becker, James Chuss and board President David Gogel.

The school board holds its reorganization meeting, when officers are to be elected and committees appointed, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2 in the administration building, 2014 Laubach Ave., Northampton.

“This board is cohesive, but they’re independent thinkers,” Kovalchik said. “The overall goal is to improve the district, and that includes the students, staff and community.”

The NASD school board will next meet 6:30 p.m. Nov. 25 in the administration building.