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Published: Wednesday, 1/12/2005

Oregon schools OK financing for renovations

The Oregon Board of Education last night voted unanimously to go forward with financing that will raise $45 million to pay for additions and renovations to its school buildings.

The work is to consist of additions and renovations to Clay High School, replacement of Coy Elementary with a new school at Pickle and Schmidlin roads for 600 students, and additions and renovations to Jerusalem, Wynn, and Starr elementary schools, plus renovations at Fassett and Eisenhower middle schools.

The board-approved financing plan will allow the district to sell short-term notes to generate the money the district expects to deposit this month to begin work on the project.

Then in April, the board will allow the sale of bonds for the project, with the proceeds used to repay the notes, board Treasurer Dennis Butler said.

Income from a 4.4-mill bond issue that was approved in November by school district voters will pay off bonds for the construction projects over 28 years.

"The sooner we get going - even the price of money goes up," Mr. Butler said. "The cheaper the interest rates are, the better off we are."

The cost of building materials also is steadily climbing, he said. "That's why we want to get going quickly."

The tax-exempt status of notes and bonds issued by school districts make them attractive to investors so there should be little difficulty finding buyers, he said. The district's healthy financial rating, helped by the presence of two large refineries within the district, is a plus to investors, school officials said.

One of the board's first decisions will be to hire an architectural firm for the projects, school officials said.



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