The Cobb school board approved a recommendation 7-0 Thursday to borrow $90 million for planned 2019 construction projects. The loans must be repaid by the end of 2019 with funds from the latest SPLOST. A replacement building for Harmony-Leland Elementary in Mableton is one of the first planned projects.
According to Brad Johnson, Chief Financial Officer of Cobb Schools, the move will mitigate rising construction costs in the area, estimated in the range of 3 to 5 percent. By acquiring annual short-term construction notes, the county will have all of its SPLOST revenue funds for 2019 at the beginning of the calendar year, instead of collecting one month at a time.
In order to secure the lowest borrowing cost for a short-term loan, Cobb Schools used Moody’s Investors Service to get a short-term debt credit rating. Wednesday, the district was awarded the highest possible rating which will help them obtain the best available interest rates. Moody’s also reviewed the district’s overall credit standing and reaffirmed the current AAA credit rating for long-term credit.
“As long as the cost of construction saved exceeds the cost of borrowing the money, for 11 months in this case, then it’s a go for getting the short-term construction note,” Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said.
Sprayberry High School Renovations
The board approved a contract with architectural firm CDH Partners for renovation plans, including the CTE wing, and a new gymnasium at Sprayberry High School. The cost of $925,000 will come out of the general fund and be reimbursed by SPLOST V. Board members David Banks and Randy Scamihorn both raised questions about the location of the new gym.
Scamihorn wanted to know if the baseball field would need to be moved to which Deputy Superintendent John Adams responded that they needed input from the architect first.
“The thrust of my questions are this. Over the years I’ve watched where we do major projects with a previous SPLOST, and then the next SPLOST, we come in and we tear half of that out to put in the newer SPLOST,” Scamihorn said.
Board member Susan Thayer pressed Scamihorn for details on SPLOST projects that have been torn down, saying she was not aware of any. He provided a couple examples but was uncertain which SPLOST they were attached to.
“I can take you to North Cobb where the design should have been better, and the principal and I were told to be quiet,” Scamihorn said.
“Yeah, I’d never heard of any of that. Interesting,” Thayer said.
Two Members Depart
Board members Susan Thayer and Scott Sweeney were both recognized for their service to the board as their terms came to an end. Thayer, who was first elected in 2014, did not run for reelection and will be replaced by Jaha Howard. Sweeney, who was first elected in 2011, lost his bid for reelection to Charisse Davis.