View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


Local school districts look to feds for help with funding

Posted: August 19, 2009 8:55 p.m.
Updated: August 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.

The Hart district agreed to ask Uncle Sam’s help in selling its Measure SA school bonds Wednesday, while Sulphur Springs School District is also seeking federal stimulus money.

Hart school board members voted to seek federal funding late Wednesday, which could mean more money for school construction and less money spent on interest and debt services.

“The program permits a district with bonding capacity to sell their bonds through the federal program at nearly no cost to the district,” said Sue Guthrie, chief financial officer for the William S. Hart Union High School District.

So far, 66 school districts across the state have applied for the federal stimulus money for projects that exceed $1.4 billion, Guthrie said. But only $700 million is available to California school districts through the federal stimulus package, Guthrie said.

If approved, the program would benefit modernization projects at Hart High School and Sierra Vista and Placerita Junior high schools; provide for construction of performing arts centers at Canyon and Saugus high schools; and fund the due diligence costs associated with a high school in Castaic.

The six projects would still be funded by Measure SA, the $300 million bond passed by local voters in November 2008, but bonds would be sold at a lower rate through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Guthrie said.

“It would allow you to maximize every dollar of that amount, rather than some of it going to interest to pay off debt services,” Superintendent Jaime Castellanos said.

School districts expect to find out if they qualify by the end of September.

Sulphur Springs School District has also applied for a $25 million bond to modernize and expand Pinetree Community School, Superintendent Robert Nolet said Wednesday.

The Canyon Country school is in its 21st year and has served as a year-round school longer than any other facility in the Santa Clarita Valley, Nolet said.

The district hopes to remove portable classrooms and construct permanent classrooms while renovating administration offices, he said.

Pinetree was built to hold 540 students, but over the years the school has seen student enrollment top 1,100, Nolet said.

The school now has about 700 students, he said, and is the last school in the Sulphur Springs School District to be modernized.

State criteria outline that schools must be in existence for 25 years before modernization projects can take place.

“When you’ve had a school that was built for 540 students that’s housed as many as 1,100 students on a year-round basis for probably 16, 20 years, you’ve created more wear and tear than a traditional school,” Nolet said.

Modernization projects at schools like Sulphur Springs and Canyon Springs community schools cost the district between $7 million and $9 million, he said.

Another portion of the money, if approved, would go toward the construction of two new Sulphur Springs schools, which would be part of the Skyline Ranch and Spring Canyon developments, he said.

“The availability of this money may help with the fact that we could put it on a faster track,” Nolet said.

Construction of the schools depend on how fast the economy can turn around, he said.

Saugus Union School District also hopes to receive a $23 million bond from the federal stimulus package for the two-story classroom building at Emblem Elementary School.

The shovel-ready plan is the last piece of Emblem’s modernization project.



Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...