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Bond may speed school work

By Staff
Tracy L. Brady, Hartselle Enquirer
The Morgan County Board of Education may be improving two county schools sooner than anticipated.
During a recent bond refinancing meeting, the board was advised to take advantage of record-low interest rates to build a new Trinity Elementary School and make extensive renovations to Eva Elementary School.
Both projects were at the bottom of a list of priorities for the school system in a $16.6 million capital outlay plan recently approved by the board.
A $10 million bond would cover each $5 million project and add approximately $308,308 in 2003 to the school's debt service.
If the bond is approved, work would begin immediately to avoid any possible bond penalties.
According to Superintendent Don Murphy, it makes good financial sense for the school system to borrow a bond now at 3 to 5 percent interest as opposed to 7 or 8 percent interest in 2005 when the projects were planned to begin.
"It's an opportunity we just can't pass up," Murphy said. "If these projects can be done now at a cheaper rate, let's go ahead and get it done."
Murphy asked the board to wait and meet with the financial group again before making a final decision on the matter. He said the board is currently working with Regions Bank to get firm monthly payment figures on $10 million, $11 million and $12 million bonds.
"I wanted the board to be completely abreast of the situation before voting," Murphy said. "We should have firm figures available to vote on in October."
Murphy said a new Trinity Elementary School would not only alleviate the overcrowding problem at West Morgan High School, but also eliminate the possibility of adding portable classrooms to the high school campus.
"Anything other than building a new school to ease overcrowding at West Morgan would just be patchwork," Murphy said.
After the bond is approved, Murphy said a town meeting will be held in the Eva community to decide if a new K-8 school should be built or if extensive renovations should be made to the existing facility.
"Eva Elementary School is the oldest facility and is in the worst shape," Murphy said. "The board will hold a town meeting in late fall or early winter to discuss its improvements."
After Trinity and Eva building and improvements have begun, Murphy said the board will address gym improvements at Cotaco and a new field house at Priceville.