Milton looking to cut stadium project costs

Alexis Bergey, a fourth-grade student at Baugher Elementary School, was named October Citizen of the Month in the Milton Area School District. She led the Pledge of Allegiance during Tuesday’s board meeting.

MILTON — The Milton Area School District school board is continuing to examine options to pare down the cost of a $7.8 million stadium renovation project, which was approved in September.

The board on Tuesday instructed John Howard, of the Architectural Studio, to come back at a Nov. 12 committee session with various options for the construction and contents of a new concession stand, ticket booth and restrooms which are proposed as part of the project.

Following the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Cathy Keegan said the combined cost of the three structures and their contents are proposed at $1.3 million. The board would like to reduce that amount.

Keegan said Howard has also provided a revised pricing structure for a proposed 24,000-square-foot addition to the high school building.

With the new figures, Keegan said the price of that proposed project is $8.2 million. During a board committee session held Tuesday, Oct. 8, the price of that project was estimated at $8.9 million.

Howard noted during Tuesday’s meeting the projected price has been reduced primarily due to his dropping soft and contingency costs from 15% to 10%.

The addition is proposed to include an 8,500-square-foot turf room, fitness center, locker rooms, training room, high school wrestling mat room and a glass hallway overlooking the new stadium. Keegan previously said the turf room alone is proposed to cost between $2.2 and $2.7 million.

Derrek Fink, the district’s business administrator, read a statement at the meeting outlining the financial impacts of renovation projects in the district.

The board in August approved moving forward with a $10 million renovation project at Baugher Elementary School.

In August, Fink said the district worked with PFM Financial advisors to restructure existing debt and issue a new series of bonds.

For the 2018-2019 school year, he said the annual debt payment was $1.7 million.

“The issuance of new bonds and notes over the next two years could total a maximum $30 million in new money borrowed,” he said. “The annual payment for 2019-2020 equals $1,755,335, for an increase of $53,369.”

According to Fink, the current debt service is already calculated into the tax millage.

“The new debt service will be amortized over 30 years, with the most growth occurring within the first four years,” he said. “The highest projected annual increase within those four years will amount to $193,558.”

Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, he said “the annual payment will remain consistent for the remaining life of the debt.

“Efforts that occurred within the restructuring of transportation services have already begun to offset the additional debt service expenditure,” Fink explained.

Keegan reported during the Oct. 8 meeting that the closure of Montandon Elementary School at the conclusion of the 2018-2019 school year has led to $150,000 in transportation savings for the district.

She said the district is expected to recognize $500,000 in savings with the closure of the school and the consolidation of students and staff to Baugher Elementary School.

In closing his remarks, Fink said the district received an A-plus S&P global rating due to the district’s “strong reserves and history of financial responsibility.”

“The A-plus rating signifies that the Milton Area School District has stable financial backing and cash reserves, which resulted in more competitive bidding allowing us to secure lower interest rates,” Fink said.

Keegan said following the meeting that minutes obtained from a recent West Chillisquaque Township supervisors meeting indicate the township will not be pursuing legal action against the district as a result of the closing of Montandon Elementary School.

Township Solicitor Robert Benion said during the September board meeting that the township was considering taking legal action against the district.

He quoted Section 305 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), which states any proposed sale or lease of school district property must be submitted to the local municipal planning agency for “recommendation at least 45 days prior to the execution of such proposed action” by the governing body of the school district.

District Solicitor Carl Beard said during Tuesday’s meeting the district followed all of the regulations related to the closing of the school.

“A suit against the district, more likely than not, would be unsuccessful and extremely expensive,” he said.

In other business, the board approved:

• The resignation of Philip Heggenstaller, White Deer Elementary principal, effective Jan. 1. He had worked for the district for three years.

• The following coaches: Mattison Ishman, head boys track and field, $7,255; and Veronica Irvine, head swimming, $4,175.

• Lauren Richie, Cynthia Krebs and 20 high school students to visit the Kutztown College of Visual and Performing Arts Open House Nov. 6 at a $500 cost to the district.

• Michelle Chappell, Sean Marshall, Bethany Rudloff, Zachary Shaffer, Allison Wright and 105 fifth graders to visit the Philadelphia Zoo March 19. All costs will bepaid by the PSA.

• Wally Blair, Nathan Richie and eight middle school students to attend the Student Council Leadership Conference April 3 at Williamson High School at a $250 cost to the district.

• The following resignations and retirements; Dawn Clouser, part-time food service employee, two years with the district; Deana Kovilaritch, middle school secretary, effective Oct. 22, 12 years with the district; and Isaiah Lynd, part-time Food Service employee, two years with the district.

• Hiring: Christine Naul, special education aide, $10.50 per hour; Teresa Reich, part-time food service employee, $10.50 per hour.

• The following staff released time requests: Karey Killian, to attend the Massachussetts Computing Using Educators Event Oct. 22-24 in Foxboro, Mass., at a $375 cost to the district; and Angela Ranck to attend the AP Central Workshop Nov. 5 in Abington, at a $285 cost to the district.

Alexis Bergey, a fourth-grade student at Baugher Elementary School, was named October Citizen of the Month. The daughter of Michael and Jennifer Bergey. Alexis led the Pledge of Allegiance during the meeting.

Cassandra Williams was recognized as Rotary Student of the Month, while Ariane Raymone was recognized as Outstanding Senior.

Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email kevin@standard-journal.com.

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