Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014, 11:56 pm

Orion School Board delays vote on facility needs

Comment on this story

By Lisa Hammer,

ORION -- School board members on Wednesday postponed a decision on a $3.6 million bond issue for heating and air-conditioning projects at the grade school and high school and a new all-weather high school track.

Instead, the board will have a special meeting at 5 p.m. Feb. 26 at the district office to consider funding.

Board member Karl Kane suggested not bonding for all the projects and said he was averse to paying off a heating project over 20 years. He also said if the district were going to go to a year-round calendar, he wasn't sure they were selecting the most efficient cooling system.

Superintendent David Deets said he believed the contractors had suggested the best cooling system regardless of whether the district were to use if for several days per year or months. He said any savings in delaying the projects would be consumed by higher interest rates and higher construction costs.

Mr. Kane said if the district ties up the sales tax for 20 years, there better not be other building needs.

Mr. Deets said all his feedback for a long time is that the three projects were priorities, and the district still would have the option of health/life safety bonds in the future.

"If we have new HVAC and new roofs, I don't know what is looming out there," he added.

The district already has done roof projects.

Board member Dwayne Anderson said the board had selected the three projects as priorities in 2012 when the one-cent school facilities sales tax, approved by Henry County voters last April, wasn't even a possibility as a revenue source. He said the concept was to do the work in two to three years.

Board member Heath McCullough said another district paid for 80 percent of a new track through fundraisers.

Mr. Anderson said the district still could do fundraisers and pay off bonds early.

Mr. Kane's motion to postpone a decision on the building projects was approved 5-1, with Mr. Anderson the only no vote. Board member Julie Abbott was absent.

In other business, the district accepted the retirements of teachers Cathy Harris, Judy Smith and Diana Wherry as of the end of the 2017-18 school year. An intergovernmental agreement for a hearing-impaired program at Moline High School also was approved.