To help pay for a new high school and converting the existing building into a middle school, Peters Township School District is poised to take on new debt while reducing its current obligation.

The school board Oct. 21 authorized the issuance of bonds with proceeds of up to $20 million at a term no longer than 20 years, plus another issue to refinance existing debt.

“The goal would be to position the district, I would say within the next 45 to 60 days, to price bonds,” Jason DiMartini, PNC Capital Markets managing director, told the board.

At its Oct. 3 finance committee meeting, the board earmarked $17 million for improvements to the existing high school and $3 million toward the new building, which is under construction on the former Rolling Hills Country Club property, off East McMurray and Center Church roads.

The authorization for new debt refers to “an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $24 million,” but that figure does not represent what the district actually would receive, DeMartini said.

“In order for us to make sure that we are sure to cover every type of financing structure, meaning what interest rates we’d get in the market, the ‘not to exceed’ parameters are bound by each individual maturity,” he explained.

“For example, for the new money issue, it’s roughly a 20-year issue. So there are 19 individual principal maturities.”

As for the bond issue for refinancing debt service at a more favorable interest rate, the parameter is for a minimum net savings of $400,000, according to Lisa Chiesa of bond counsel Clark Hill PLC.

Also during the Oct. 21 meeting, Roshelle Fennell of Reynolds Construction LLC, the construction management firm for the high school project, provided an update.

While several facets are well on the way toward the goal of having the building sealed so that interior work can proceed throughout the winter, Fennell mentioned some problems, including a lack of available masons and roofers.

“This is where we’re now seeing the hit on manpower with everything that is going on in the Pittsburgh area,” she said, noting that general contractor Nello Construction is working on resolving the issue.

In the meantime, work proceeds on the academic wing with drywall installation and finishing, and the placement of windows. Nello will have temporary heating in place by the end of the month, according to Fennell.

Structural steel is on site for the auxiliary gym and administrative area, and bases for light poles are in place in the north parking lot, she said. The lot will be paved prior to winter for better vehicle access.

“We’re still feeling confident,” Fennell told the board about the project meeting the fall 2020 deadline.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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