School districts get interest-free loans
Three local school districts will get almost $4 million in interest-free loans created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Elkhorn, Parkview and Sharon school districts were awarded Qualified School Construction Bond Program loans, according to a news release from Gov. Jim Doyle’s office.
The program makes loan money available for school renovation or new construction.
The federal government pays all the interest costs from the loans.
The Department of Public Instruction administers the loans.
In Wisconsin, 56 school districts were approved for $120.5 million in loans.
Nine other districts earned $23.4 million through a similar program. The Qualified Zone Academy Bond program provides money to districts where 35 percent or more of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.
Elkhorn Area School District—$700,000. The district will add classroom space in its elementary schools and do remodeling for its Project Lead the Way program, said Susan Leibsle, school board president.
“We’ll save the taxpayers $10,000 to $13,000 in interest,” Leibsle said. “We’re very happy about that.”
Parkview School District—$575,000. The district will borrow the money to repair the roof at the high school and junior high, Administrator Steve Lutzke said.
The project will cost $700,000, he said.
“We’re really happy we are able to do this fiscally responsibly for the school district,” Lutzke said.
Sharon School District—$2.69 million. District officials were pleasantly surprised to learn federal money will pay for the interest on 45 percent of the $5.9 million construction loan voters approved in an April referendum, Administrator Steve Huebbe said.
The board could borrow less money for the project, Huebbe said. Or the district could add some of the projects on a “wish list” created by a citizens committee that worked on referendum planning, he said.
The district this week is finalizing schematic design plans. Construction packages will likely go out for bid in August. Some work could start in the fall, and most the construction will be done next summer, Huebbe said.
Work will include security and energy upgrades as well as work on the roof and exterior of the school.