Mars board gets good bond news

May 15, 2019 Cranberry Local News


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ADAMS TWP — Favorable market conditions that led members of the Mars School Board to refinance two bonds last month got a little more favorable last week. During a meeting of the board May 7, Tim Frenz of Janney Montgomery Scott LLC said late improvements in rates led the district to earn about $504,000 on the first of the bonds through refinancing May 1. This was more than $10,000 more than anticipated, he said.

Last month the board opted to refinance the district's 2012 and 2014 A bonds to bring about $700,000 to the district. The second of the two bonds is set to be refinanced Thursday.

The funds can be used only for capital projects. The board opted to take the payments up front instead of over the life of the debt. They chose to do so citing needed work at district schools, including the replacement of the chiller system at the high school, a new roof for the primary center, and wood casework at the middle school. Those projects would cost a little more than $698,000.

Anthony Ditka of Dinsmore & Shohl said addressing those projects later without taking the funds up front would require borrowing.

Frenz said the district has completed nine similar transactions over the past decade, leading to millions of dollars in savings.

Also May 7, the board gave tentative approval to the 2019-20 district budget.

Totaling $52,233,509, the budget addresses staffing, security and programming in the district. According to Superintendent Wesley Shipley, the increase over the current budget of $48.36 million accounts for one elementary school teacher, five special education teachers, five paraprofessionals, a districtwide social worker and a school psychologist.

It also includes the hiring of three police officers who will join with two Adams Township officers to create a district police force, as well as roughly $400,000 toward the district's math curriculum. Board member William Pettigrew voted no on approving the budget, with the remainder of the board in favor. The budget will be posted for 30 days for public review.

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J.W.  Johnson Jr.

J.W. Johnson Jr.

J.W. Johnson Jr. is the bureau chief of the Cranberry Eagle. Johnson is a native of Bellaire, Ohio, and graduated from Bellaire High School in 2004. He is a 2009 graduate of Ohio University in Athens with a bachelor of specialized studies degree in English and journalism. While there, he served as a reporter and editor at The Post, the university’s student-run, independent newspaper. In 2009, he was hired as a reporter for The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register in Wheeling, W.Va. Over the course of eight years, he also served as Marshall County bureau chief, city editor and news editor. He also won two first place West Virginia Press Association Awards for his reporting and design work. He and his wife, Maureen, live in Carnegie.