St. John board plans $3.5 million loan

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 11, 2000

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / July 11, 2000

RESERVE – Thanks to a new bond program set up by the federal government, the St. John Parish School Board is going to borrow $3.5million in an interest-free loan.

The bonds, which will be used to pay the performance contract with the Siemans Corp., are being used for the first time in Louisiana.At a rare, early-morning meeting Monday, bond attorney Hugh Martin told the school board the contract could be paid off interest free by getting the State Bond Commission to issue bonds in what is called Qualified Zone Academy Bonds.

“The program has been in place for about a year,” said Martin, “but this is the first time it will be used in Louisiana.”This bond program is interest free because the federal government gives a tax break to the lending institution that finances the bonds.

To qualify for the program a school district must either have 35 percent of its student body eligible for the free school lunch program or be declared an empowerment zone. St. John Parish public schools qualifybecause of the large number of students enrolled in the free lunch program.

The performance contract with Siemans will help the school system save money by making lighting, air-conditioning, heating and other electrical systems in school buildings cost-effective and environmentally sound.

Felix Boughton, executive director of business and finance for the school board, said the savings Siemans will provide will pay for the loan.

“We are borrowing $3.5 million which we have to pay back in 10 yearswith installments of $350,000,” said Boughton. “The savings from theSiemans contract will pay for the note.”Boughton said Siemans has already started working on the school buildings. This summer the company is retro-fitting all lighting fixturesand putting in new control systems for the air-conditioning units.

The board gave Martin approval to ask the State Bond Commission to issue the bonds.

In other school board business, Boughton got approval from the board to add $26,000 in repairs to the West St. John Elementary School roof.Recently, the board had approved the cost of a protective lining to be put on the roof. However, maintenance crews discovered that parts of thedecking of the roof would have to be replaced in order for the lining to be effective. The board unanimously approved release of the monies for theadded repairs.

The board also officially appointed LaRue Speights to be the interim representative from District 8 on the school board.

Speights is filling the spot vacated by former school board president, Richard DeLong who retired on July 1.

Speights will stay on the board until the October elections when a new representative will be elected. Speights will be sworn in at the regularschool board meeting of July 20.

Return To News Stories