Avon Grove Taxpayers for Responsible Spending


        Citizens, Parents, and Schools working together to bring Avon Grove into the 21st Century!

Committee of the Whole- Planning and Construction
October 16, 2019

Members of the School Board participating in this meeting included Ms Tracy Lisi, Mr John Auerbach, Mr Jeff Billig, Mr Charles Beatty, Mr Rick Dumont, Mr Herman Engel, Ms Lynn Weber, and Ms Bonnie Wolff.  Mr Bill Wood attended the meeting via phone.  

Meeting Agenda:

1.  Update from the Integration Committee:


An updated design of the school was presented.  Construction is planned to start in the spring of 2020 and be completed by the spring of 2022.  The team is preparing for a Zoning Hearing with Penn Township to request relief for several zoning requirements not addressed in the proposed land development plan. 

Mr Billig requested clarification on several aspects of the new high school project.

  • The Community Health Center is no longer part of the new high school project.  The project engineer stated that it was removed from the plan 4 to 6 weeks ago.  Mr Auerbach asked when this decision was made since the SB did not have a formal vote.  No one seemed to know when the decision was made.
  • The Early Learning Center and associated playground are included in the high school project as an alternate option.  The space for the Early Learning Center as well as a dedicated bathroom, a separation wall and a secure entrance from the outside continue to be part of the new high school design.
  • A Field House for the athletic field (Slide 6) is an alternate option in the plan.  A conduit for supplying electricity and water to the field house and possible duplicate competition stadium are included in the high school design.

 2.  High School to Middle School Conversion

MS Images
To date while over 35 meeting have taken place for the new high school project, only 6 meetings have occurred for the middle school conversion project.  Plans were discussed for improving the exterior of the building to clearly delineate the entrance to the new middle school.  The offices for the Administration will likely be moved to the front of building where the current HS auxiliary gym is located.  A new Guidance space and common space could then be added where the administration currently sits.  There are numerous infrastructure improvements that are needed for the current HA building including a new HVAC system, a new roof, updated bathrooms, and auditorium.  It is unclear if there will be enough money in the facilities project budget to address everything that needs to be done at the current high school.  Superintendent Marchese stated that a more refined budget for the MS conversion will be developed by December so when bids from contractors come back for the new high school, the school board can look at the entire project and determine if any changes are needed.  The Superintendent failed to note that it will be difficult to make any substantial changes to the design of the high school at this late date.  There is a concern that work that is required for the current high school will need to be postponed once again until more money becomes available.

3.  Project Expense Summary Update


 Spreadsheets detailing the money spent on the facilities project were presented.  To date, $2,523,018.24 has been spent on the new high school project with $72,138.88 being spent on the middle school conversion project.

4.  Geo-Technical Engineer Presentation

Geopier General Brochure
The geo-thermal engineer described the process he plans to use to improve the soil at the site of the new high school.  He is confident that once his project is complete, the soil will be able to support a 3 story building.  He may need to install thousands of columns/geopiers.  It will probably take 6 working weeks to install.

5.  Owner Controller Insurance Program (OCIP) Presentation


 A representative from Willis Towers Watson presented an option for insuring the construction of the new high school called an Owner Controller Insurance Program (OCIP).  An OCIP is a single unified insurance program that is purchased by the owner and is designed to cover the construction exposures and risks for the entire construction project under one policy, rather than having individual contractor insurance policies cover the same risk.  The cost of the program is $21.1661 per $1000 of construction value.  This would amount to ~$1.8 million for the high school project.  The program covers claims that occur during the building of the facilities and up to 12 years after the facilities is operational.  Most contractors are familiar with the program so there should be no problem attracting experienced contractors to the project.

A decision whether to pursue this approach will be made by the CoW at the November 2019 meeting.

6.  Future Bond Financing

The financing of the facilities project has been divided into several phases.

  • $40 million has already been borrowed.  This money is currently being invested resulting in earnings of ~$400,000.  However, interest payments totaling $687,000 have been made resulting in an overall loss of ~$250,000.
  • An interest rate hedge of 2.51% was entered into for $20 million which is due June 2020.  If interest rates stay as they are today, the AG school district could owe as much as $3.8 million to the RBC Capital Markets.  If interest rates on June 2020 are higher than 2.51%, AG school district could be owed money. 
  • An interest rate hedge of 2.37% was entered into for $20 million which is due June 2021. 
  • The remaining $47 million doesn’t need to be borrowed until 2022.

 A proposal for entering into an interest rate hedge for the remaining $47 million was discussed. The 5 school board members who supported the previous interest rate swap (Ms Tracy Lisi, Mr Jeff Billig, Mr Herman Engel, Ms Bonnie Wolff and Mr Bill Wood) appeared to again be supportive of an interest rate hedge and would like to discuss the proposal with some experts.  Ms Weber stated that she continues to be against any interest rate swap.  Mr Beatty, Mr Auerbach, and Mr Dumont said that they would be open to hearing from the experts on the issue but do not want this interest interpreted as supporting another interest rate swap.

The next meeting of the Committee of the Whole- Planning and Construction will take place in November.