Bond sale puts money for school addition in place

Refinancing of remaining 1991 bond obligation expected to save $640K

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

WEST LONG BRANCH — The new addition and renovations planned for the borough’s two-school complex took a step closer to becoming reality with the authorization by the Board of Education of the sale of $5,538,000 in bonds.

At its Oct. 28 meeting, the board also authorized the sale of $2,995,000 in bonds to refinance the debt of the Betty McElmon Primary School, which opened in 1991. That move is expected to save the district $640,000.

The total of $8,533,000 in bonds will be sold on or about Nov. 18, according to board President Michael S. Keszler. The board’s bond counsel is Wilentz Goldman and Spitzer, which is headquar­tered in Woodbridge.

The $5.3 million in bonds for school construction will have a 15-year maturity rate. The nearly $3 million in bonds for the refinanc­ing will mature in seven years at the same rate as the current bonds were scheduled to mature.

The old debt was refinanced to take advantage of lower interest rates, as many homeowners are do­ing with their house mortgages, ac­cording to Dayton Faunce, the school district’s business adminis­trator.

The board also passed a resolu­tion naming Maser Consulting, Matawan, as its professional engi­neer for the post-referendum site renovations in preparation for construction for a fee not to exceed $125,350. Maser had been hired Feb. 18 to handle the prereferen­dum site renovations.

In a housekeeping item, the board passed a resolution approv­ing the award of a contract for construction management services to Hill International Inc., Mount Laurel.

Keszler said the board should be ready to advertise for bids in February or March. He said it is on target for the construction to begin at the end of this school year in June 2004. The work is expected to be completed for the opening of school in the fall of 2005.

The addition, which will serve both schools and be located be­tween them, will contain a new li­brary/media center, two computer labs, an art room, a music room with three smaller music rooms off it, three classrooms and a small group instruction room. Renovations will be made at both the Betty McElmon School and the Frank Antonides School, and im­provements are planned for the schools’ ballfields, playground, and tennis and basketball courts.

Superintendent of Schools Joan Kelly said updates on construction as it’s going on will be posted on the school’s Web site.

"It’s going to be an exciting time," Keszler remarked.