PRINCETON — A proposed $10.65 million bond issue to finance the expansion of Princeton Community Primary School North could be repaid at about the same debt service tax rate North Gibson property owners are paying now.

At the first of two public hearings for the proposed project, H.J. Umbaugh & Associates CPA Jeffrey Hammond told North Gibson school trustees the current debt service tax rate is slightly more than 57 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, and the estimated tax rate for the new project, which would be wrapped around the current bonds issued to build the high school, would be 56 cents per $100 AV in 2020.

VPS architect George Link said the project includes a new wing on the south side of PCPS North that would include 11 classrooms, computer labs and toilet rooms, plus light remodels of the kitchen/cafeteria, a new gym on the east side of the building. The project would also expand the school parking lot and create an entrance for after-school childcare.

Link said the project could be completed by the summer of 2020 if bonds are issued and bids are accepted by early 2019.

When accomplished, the expansion would bring kindergarteners from the PCPS South (former Lowell) building to the North Gibson Learning Campus, accomplishing a goal set 25 years ago when Baldwin Heights Elementary School was closed.

Hammond noted the school district is making a $4.9 million annual bond payment for the high school construction project, through 2029. The new bond issue would continue the school's bond debt through 2031, with no increase in the tax rate anticipated.

The school district would pay about $6.8 million in interest on the bonds over the course of the next 20 years, Hammon projected.

He told school board members that the calculations are estimated higher than current interest rates as a cushion.

Amy Bingham, a candidate in the November school board elections from White River Township, told the board she supports and is excited about the project, but reported some concerns residents have voiced to her about roof leaks at the high school. She expressed some concern about how the contractors for projects are evaluated. "I would like that taken care of first," she said. "It's a beautiful high school...I really think that needs to be fixed."

Link said the bid process is public the lowest responsible, responsive bid is recommended. He said if the school district experiences problems with a contractor and properly documents the issues, the board is not obligated to accept a bid from that contractor.

Board member Mike Ice said some of the concerns about flat roofs on the school buildings may be misplaced, noting that the process isn't just tar paper and rocks. "It's not anywhere near what the old flat roofs were like," he said, explaining the process and noting "it doesn't have to be a flat roof to leak."

Bond counsel Brad Bingham of Barnes & Thornburg said the next public hearing on the project is at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 24.

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