State funding will pay for 79 percent of projects if bond passes

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Orange Grove Journal

An estimate of $6.8 million worth of facility improvements was given to Orange Grove ISD board members Monday night for review, after consideration by several facility committees within the district.

Bill Wilson, with WKMC, led the report with a list of prioritized facility improvements to several district structures.

Superintendent Earl Luce said the district looked at projects they felt they could pay for, with a majority of the funding coming from state Instructional Facilities Allotments, which will be distributed in 2008.

The board looked at adding 12,450 square feet to Orange Grove High School, which includes the addition of 11 classrooms and one new science lab. The cost for additions is $1,758,000.

At the junior high, the district looked at adding a cafeteria expansion for $382,500 and four new classrooms for $761,000.

A new roof was also deemed necessary for the facility, at $710,000. Luce said improvements at Orange Grove Intermediate school would total $210,000.

The primary school, due to student increases, is looking to add eight new classrooms and some storage space totaling 9,070 square feet. The cost for the improvements is $1,451,000.

Luce said that in addition, the district needs new roofs on the maintenance building, old transportation field house and old primary building at the intermediate, for a cost of $225,000.

"At the same time then, we have been in contact with SouthWest Securities, our financial advisers, to see what we can qualify for under the IFA program," Luce said. "They came back and said the district could qualify for 79 percent on the bond issue. The district would pay 21 percent and the state would pay 79 percent."

By going for a bond issue, the district could collect $6.5 million at a preliminary interest rate of 5.15 percent, on a 30-year bond, Luce said.

That would lead to a 6.56 cents increase in the tax rate under the interesting and sinking tax, which is the portion of the tax rate school districts use to pay back indebtedness.

Without the award of an IFA, the district would be looking at a tax rate increase of 31.2 cents, which Luce said the district couldn't do on its own.

In order to apply for an IFA in June 2008, the district would need to pass a bond on the amount by November of this year.

The IFA funding would then be distributed in August 2008.

Without IFA funding, Luce said the district would not sell the bonds.

The board agreed to call for a bond election in November for $5.56 million.

Luce said the district would be looking for ways to get the information on the bond election out to the public, in preparation for November.

Construction on the facility improvements could begin as early as fall 2008, if the district is approved for IFA funding.

Also during the board meeting, the district received word of a superior rating on its preliminary financial accounting report released by the state.

They reviewed both the drop out rate at the junior high and the completion rate for the high school.

The junior high had a zero percent drop out rate for the 2006-2007 school year, and the completion rate at the high school is at 94.9 percent.

"We did very well there," Luce said.

The certified values from the Jim Wells County Appraisal District came in, and OGISD is valued at $149 million for 2007, which is a $14 million increase over 2006.