By Luke Brantley
WINFIELD — The Winfield City Schools Board of Education voted in a meeting on Friday, Dec. 15, to approve the issue of bond warrants to fund upcoming capital projects.
The board released plans earlier this year to construct new facilities and help cover the cost of roof repairs at the elementary school and high school.
The school bond issue totals $12 million. Superintendent Randy Thomley explained what the funds from the bond will go toward.
“It will be used for several capital projects, including a track, football stadium, softball concessions, career tech classrooms and a portion of funding for both of the roof projects,” Thomley said. “It is going to help us to have very good facilities. I also believe it will be a tremendous asset to the community and the schools.”
The board, the city and the park all entered into an agreement in November in which the city would continue to support the school by extending the current sales tax apportionment to go toward paying the bond.
The four percent sales tax appropriation has been in place for around 40 years and has funded important capital projects in the school’s history, such as the building of the high school in 1998 and the multipurpose athletic facility.
As part of the agreement, the school has agreed to help pay for a new gymnasium to be built by the park, which is something the park has been trying to accomplish for a long time. Also, as part of the agreement, the school will also have access to the new gym when they need it if it’s not being used by the park at that same time.
The park is looking to construct the new gym where the public pool used to be, but those plans are still in the earliest stages.
Robert “Bob” Young of the Frazier Lanier Company, who has worked with the city on bond issues before, explained to the council why this agreement was necessary in the November city council meeting where the agreement was approved.
“What this will do is extend the taxes that you already send to the school board each year for as long as the bonds are outstanding,” Young said. “Under Alabama law, the only taxes that can be used to pay for a loan are local taxes, so you can’t use a special education trust fund or federal funds. So local funds are the only ones that a school board can use to pay debt service. What this does is extend the tax to a point until the debt is paid off, and this is very usual for city and county school boards when an agreement is adopted by the entity that levies the tax to continue until the debt is paid.”
Young clarified this agreement wouldn’t be adding anything new. It would simply be an extension of what is already in place.
The existing agreement was set to expire in 2028, but instead, it will remain in place until the debt required to fund the new capital projects is paid off.
Young attended the board meeting on Dec. 15, and said funds should begin processing into the school’s accounts around Dec. 21.
Also present at the meeting on Dec. 15, was attorney Kane Burnette, who explained some of the terms of the bond and why it was a good deal for the school.
“It’s plain vanilla, in a good way,” Burnette said. “There’s no possibility of an increase in interest rates, no acceleration provisions—very standard, friendly provisions, and all of this has been approved by the state department of education as required by law.”
See complete story in the Journal Record.