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April 3, 2014

How school district hopes to save $30,000

WINDBER — Windber Area School District hopes refinancing a $4 million loan will allow the district to save more than $30,000.

That amount would cover the cost to survey Windber Stadium’s grounds this spring, school officials say.

The move would allow the district to retire its $4 million in remaining debt in 2016, Superintendent Rick Huffman said.

The estimated savings,” he said, “is a true savings – it’s calculated after factoring in refinance fees.”

The district is working with Philadelphia-based financial advisory firm Public Financial Management on the refinancing. The board is expected to review offers at its April 15 meeting, Huffman said.

The board also plans to seek offers on a $5.9 million loan that would be used for a still-undecided first phase of district renovations.

“This is funding that will be primarily used for immediate needs,” Huffman said, listing security upgrades and a failing retaining wall among likely projects. “But the board has not yet decided what the first phase will entail. Some of that is going to depend on the rates we receive ... assuming they are acceptable.”

The district has been eyeing a $17 million, multiphase project to upgrade its campuses. The district is expected to take advantage of expiring debt obligations and capital reserve funding to undertake the first phase, meaning there will be no tax impact, Huffman said.

Stadium work, including new turf, is among the list of projects being considered.  The topographical surveying and land mapping is considered a first step toward that work because the property is owned by the Windber Stadium Authority. A deal to transfer it to the school district would have to be in place before district-led work could begin, school officials have said.

H.F. Lenz’s low bid, $30,100, to do the survey was approved Tuesday. Huffman said work could start in the next few weeks and be complete in a few months.

David Hurst covers Windber for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tddavid-hurst

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