The Roslyn school district will issue a total of $24.5 million in capital bonds for the fiscal year 2016-17, a figure almost three times greater than expected when the budget was finalized last November, Joseph Dragone, the assistant superintendent for business and administration, said Monday.
The reasons for the increase include an unexpectedly quick state approval for the capital projects as well as a favorable interest rate on the bonds.
“After the budget was finalized, we received word from the state Education Department that we had approval for projects at the high school, Harbor Hill School and the bus garage,” he said in an interview. “Those total about $25 million but we only budgeted for $9 million.”
Dragone called the interest rate of 2.17 percent on the bonds “the lowest in history” and noted the Federal Reserve’s anticipated increase of the prime rate as an additional factor that hastened the borrowing.
The borrowing stems from the district’s 2014 bond referendum, which approved a $41.3 million capital program intended to unfold over multiple years.
The projects at the high school will cost approximately $16 million, and include the construction of a new gymnasium, the reconstruction of the front of the main building and the reconfiguration of the parking lot, Dragone said.
At Harbor Hill School, the project will cost as much as $6 million for a new multipurpose classroom, he said.
The demolition of the bus garage will cost about $32,000, and an additional $2,000 or $3,000 to disconnect electricity, he said.
He said the remaining funds will be put toward other projects.
The gymnasium at the high school and the multipurpose room at Harbor Hill School will be completed by the spring or summer of next year, said Kevin Carpenter, assistant to the superintendent for administration and special projects. The work on the high school’s main entrance and parking lot will take longer.
“It’s an exciting time to be a part of facilities in the district,” he said in a presentation about the capital projects at a Board of Education meeting on Nov. 17.
Some of the 2014 capital projects were completed over the summer, including emergency lighting as well as ventilation at Roslyn Middle School, sitework at the middle school and East Hills School, and repairs on the district’s transportation building, Carpenter said.
The district is still paying off an $11 million debt on a 2002 capital bond, Dragone said. Because of this year’s unexpected increase in borrowing for the 2014 bond, the board on Nov. 17 approved a transfer of $1,241,700 from the district’s debt service fund to pay down the 2002 bond. As a result of the transfer, the residents of Roslyn will not see taxes from the bonds exceed $60 on their yearly tax bill, a limit given by the district when the second bond was passed in 2014, Dragone said.
The debt service fund totals approximately $9.7 million in miscellaneous surpluses that accrued in prior years. Eventually a small levy will be placed on residents to make up for the amount of the 2002 bond debt left over after all of the $9.7 million from the debt services fund has been used to pay it down, Dragone said.
Clifford Saffron, vice president of the Roslyn Board of Education, called the projects “a remarkable transformation” that will “redefine Roslyn schools” and “improve the safety and security of students.”