Leftover bond funds aimed at school repairs

Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Soldotna Middle School would get four much-needed classrooms and a modern fire-suppression sprinkler system under a proposed borough ordinance reappropriating nearly $1.9 million in unspent proceeds and accumulated interest from a 2000 general obligation bond sale.

The new classrooms and sprinklers would consume $1.2 million of the leftover funds. The rest would be distributed among projects at four other schools, including $350,000 to replace the roof and install a drainage system at Nanwalek School; $65,000 to install three additional potable water tanks totaling 1,600 gallons at Skyview High School in order to bring the school into compliance with Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation requirements; $150,000 to repair a leak and make other improvements at the pool at Ninilchik School; and $120,000 to install a buildingwide fire alarm system at Sears Elementary School.

Ordinance 2002-19-38 would appropriate the funds contingent upon approval of the projects by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. Earlier this month, the assembly passed Resolution 2003-34 expressing its intent to reappropriate the funds. The ordinance gets a pubic hearing at tonight's meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Assembly.

In a memo to the assembly, Walter Robson of the borough's capital projects division said if the assembly adopted the ordinance expeditiously the projects could be completed during the 2003 construction season, provided they get state approval.

"If the ordinance is approved by the assembly, work on these five projects will start immediately upon receipt of project approval," he said.

Lee Young, principal of Soldotna Middle School, said the school, which has 552 students in seventh and eighth grades, uses eight portable classrooms to help accommodate the student body. Young said he has been principal for five years, and that portables were in use before he came.

"Yes, we are hopeful" that the spending package will be approved, he said.

Dave Spence, school district director of planning and operations, said about $400,000 of the $1.2 million will be used at Soldotna Middle School to install a sprinkler system throughout the entire school. The rest will go primarily to create four classrooms inside the main building, reducing the need for portables.

Asked why so much money remained from the 2000 bond package, Spence said the state Legislature had authorized some $151 million in construction money statewide that year, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough's share was $7.29 million. A package of projects was assembled to use the money, including some 10 roofing projects, as well as boiler upgrades and bleacher repairs. But the price tag for those projects was "just an educated guess" prior to actually going out for bids, he said. As it turned out, the borough was able to bundle some $4 million in roof repair projects together.

"With that economy of scale, we were able to save a considerable amount of money," Spence said.

That savings resulted in the $1.48 million in unspent bond proceeds, plus the accumulated interest that Ordinance 2002-19-38 now proposes to spend.

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