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Sports complex to be topic of new U-46 vote

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 will be voting on another proposal relating to the Bartlett High School sports complex as well as an energy savings contract at its upcoming meeting on Monday, Nov. 20. The items were presented on Nov. 6.
  Addressing the Bartlett sports complex is a resolution approving the Installment Purchase Agreement regarding the terms with JP Morgan Chase Bank for the Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) that will be used for some of the cost of constructing the complex.
  The total cost of the previously approved project is $1.6 million, the Bartlett Boosters Club having raised $925,000 through private donations, with the QZAB totaling $466,270 along with $281,934 coming from the district’s operations and maintenance fund. The boosters are expected to pay off the debt from the QZAB.
  Jeff King, chief operating officer, said “we’re using debt certificates” and the bank has agreed to purchase the certificates if necessary. The potential interest rate is 0.25 percent.
  Under the original proposal the total from the QZAB was $370,766, but the low-interest debt is offered through the state and can only go towards the project, in this case the sports complex, that was approved. King said at the time the district could receive more if other schools awarded funds through the QZAB dropped out.
  Board member Jeanette Ward asked: “I thought that they only needed $371K, so why would we borrow more than what is needed? And by the way [the boosters] are paying it back, not us, correct?”
  King said “well, [the boosters] gave us a letter saying they would” pay back the debt and Donna Smith, the board’s president, interrupted to note that the board is essentially the co-signer, which Ward noted before the October vote that approved the project.
  “I hope we all understood that when we voted yes for this that if they don’t [pay], we are held responsible,” Smith said.
  “Right, but they will. They’ve shown good faith thus far and raised nearly $1 million. They will certainly pay it back,” Ward responded and reiterated her original question on why the district is seeking more from the QZAB. She said: “Just because it’s available doesn’t mean that we should borrow more.”
  King said “well, it’s a low interest borrowing” and “we need the funds for the project. They’ll all be allocated towards that project. If there’s something that we don’t spend, then obviously we can return it and pay off that section of that debt.”
  Ward asked if the boosters club was “on board” with paying off the higher amount which King said they were aware of it.
  Board member Phil Costello asked if it was a drawdown or advance which King said “it’s just an advance.”
  “So then we have to repay it under their terms, so it’s not like a line of credit,” Costello said.
  Board member Melissa Owens asked if seeking the higher amount from the QZAB offset the money coming from the operations and maintenance fund which King said it would not.
  The energy savings proposal is for a five-year contract with Cenergistic which King called an “efficiency contract.”
  “If we reduce our expenditures, then the company… will get a percentage of those savings,” said King who added Cenergistic would provide three of its own employees to check the all district buildings and their energy systems.
  The estimated savings over the five years is $4.4 million, ranging from $800,000 to $1 million each year, and Cenergistic would receive 50 percent of those savings. There is also a cost of $59,988 for software.
  Costello asked if there were any competitors and if the 50 percent was a normal rate and King said “I couldn’t find anything else, and actually that was a negotiating point with them.” King said Cenergistic picks up most of the up front costs and U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said “surrounding school districts… brought this to our attention.”
  Costello also asked what the current energy costs in the district were that would be the base to seeing any savings to which King said the district spends about $5 million a year on energy.
  Board member Sue Kerr asked if the district would provide an annual report on savings and King said he would.



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