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EACS board OKs debt of $2 million to fix buildings

– NEW HAVEN – Despite repeated attempts to find a way to pay out of pocket, East Allen County Schools does not have enough money to pay for all necessary repairs to school buildings, officials said Tuesday.

EACS board members voted Tuesday to move forward on plans to secure a $2 million general-obligation bond to help pay for maintenance and repairs to 10 of the district’s buildings.

The bond will not exceed $2 million, with an interest rate of no more than 5 percent, Business Manager Kirby Stahly said. It will be paid off in 2017, he said.

The projects include maintenance and repairs to New Haven High School, New Haven Middle School, New Haven Intermediate School, New Haven Primary School, Cedarville and Southwick elementary schools, Leo Junior-Senior High School, Park Hill Learning Center and the district’s Service Center.

Board members voted 5-1 for the measure, with board member Arden Hoffman voting against it.

Since the school district has not completed a long-term utilization plan and has some money available for some projects to be completed, Hoffman said he would prefer to use money that the district use what’s in its capital projects fund rather than approve additional debt.

“We’re looking at borrowing this chunk of money and incurring yet another debt to the district,” he said. “I really think that for the taxpayer, it seems like the best interest to them and for us, I think, the responsible thing to do is use the money in this capital projects fund.”

Stahly explained the the fund does not have enough money to cover the costs of all the building projects.

The board will receive additional information about the general obligation bond and will vote on a resolution to approve the 2013-14 budget at the Oct. 15 meeting, Stahly said.

Contract approved

EACS employees will continue with an agreement with Parkview Health Systems/Signature Care as the provider of health care insurance for school employees, district officials said Tuesday.

The current agreement with Parkview, which the district has maintained for about 16 years, expires Dec. 31.

With the decision to stay with Parkview, employees will not see an increase in health care costs for 2014, Stahly said.

The board also considered an agreement with Three Rivers Preferred through Lutheran Health Network, but the change in providers would have required many employees to change caretakers.

“We get a lot of communication from our staff after having Parkview for 16 years,” board member Terry Jo Lightfoot said.

“We have employees that say ‘I’m in the middle of chemo treatments.’ A change in hospitals is a big deal, and a change in treatments is a big deal.”

The board approved the contract 5-1, with Hoffman voting against.