By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Bowling Green City School’s healthy bond rating should pay off for the district when it finances the middle school addition.
During Tuesday’s board of education meeting, Kent Cashell, of RBC Capital Markets, reported on the middle school debt issue.
Last month, the school board voted unanimously to request bids for a $4.15 million expansion of the middle school to relieve serious overcrowding. The plan is to pay for that project with permanent improvement money, so it will be completely separate from the bond issue project on the November ballot.
Cashell explained this financing is different than most building bond issues, since the school district will not need to ask voters for new funding to repay the loan. The district will use already voted on permanent improvement funds to pay for the debt incurred for the middle school addition.
Cashell said the district will be looking to borrow for the shortest period of time, with comfortable payments, to save on interest rates.
The Bowling Green district has a solid bond rating – at AA2 by Moody’s – which is one of the best in the state, Cashell said.
“The district is in good financial standing,” he said.
The middle school is the newest building in the district, having been constructed in 2009. But the problem is that it was built to house two grades – seventh and eighth graders. However, when a couple older elementary schools in the district were closed, the sixth graders were also moved into the middle school.
The middle school currently houses about 750 students. Unless the building is expanded, the overcrowding issue will worsen in a couple years when an abnormally large class entering fifth grade now reaches the middle school, pushing the student count close to 800.
To relieve the overcrowding, another classroom wing is planned. It will be situated to the south and parallel to the existing classroom wing. An open courtyard area will sit between the two wings. The new one-story addition will likely be used for the eighth graders.
The goal is to have the new wing open for the 2018 school year. An addition to the cafeteria is also planned, with that work scheduled to begin next spring.
The building is estimated to cost $4.15 million, and the furnishings are expected to cost just over $200,000, according to Kent Buehrer, of Buehrer Group Architecture. Buehrer said last month the new wing will not be identical to the existing wing, since the district learned from current design problems. For example, the lockers in the new wing will run along the perimeter of the hallways.