Catasauqua Press

Friday, December 6, 2019

School board members discuss refinancing plan

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 by Samantha Anderson sanderson@tnonline.com in Local News

Bond from 2014 could save district about $635,000, ease cash flow

During the Catasauqua Area School District Board of Education meeting Nov. 12, directors heard a presentation about refinancing bonds in the district.

Brad Remig, managing director at PFM Financial Advisors LLC, reported the interest rates have gone down since the board last refinanced.

“The market is good,” Remig said.

He noted that while a couple of the district’s bonds are available for refinancing, there is no interest rate savings for some of them. He urged the directors to approve refinancing the 2014 bond, which will save the district approximately $635,000. Remig reported taking this course will extend the debt a few years but, in the end, will save the district money and ease cash flow.

“We are looking ahead and positioning ourselves for the future,” Robert Spengler, CASD superintendent, said. “I think this is the right thing for us to do.”

It was noted the district is aiming to borrow more than $6,000,000 toward capital projects, including the renovations at Alumni Field.

With the refinancing and expected revenues in the district, Spengler reported the budget should be in a strong, stable place for the 2020-21 school year. The board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the administration to proceed with the general bond issue and refinancing.

“I appreciate your faith and trust,” Spengler said after the vote.

During the meeting, the principals at the various district schools gave a brief presentation on performance and planning for the future.

Eric Dauberman, Sheckler Elementary School principal, noted the achievement scores on the PSSA tests were higher than in past years.

“We’ve always been good at growth, but this is a jump in achievement,” he said.

Dauberman credited much of the reason for the jump to the hard work of the teachers.

Melissa Inselmann, Catasauqua Middle School principal, reported many of the lower-performing students have shown significant growth, and many of the students are responding well to the career awareness program in the school.

She also mentioned they are working to target lower math scores by reviewing the curriculum and the addition of Discovery Education techbooks.

Adam Schnug, Catasauqua High School principal, noted the Keystone algebra and literature scores have been on a steady rise. He also mentioned the students get industry and career experience through programs and internship opportunities through the school.

One concern all principals agreed on was attendance. They noted they are working with different groups and alternative options to combat the problem.

Jason Bashaw, school board director, raised a few concerns about security and safety. He noted with the updates happening at Alumni Field, now might be a good time to discuss the fencing around the field. He suggested something more substantial, which may be helpful in case of an emergency situation. Several board members agreed it was worth looking into.

Kathleen Kotran, coordinator of instructional technology and federal programs, reported the school recently received a competitive Safe Schools Targeted Grant for more than $24,000. She noted the funds will be used to purchase a visitor identification system and updated two-way radios.

Also at the school board meeting, several educators were approved to be added to the substitute employment list. They include guest teachers Nancy Sankari, Lynn Wildes, Wendy Wright, Angela Campbell and Chloe Flecha; substitute teachers Katie Pierce, Margyn Hagy and Amanda Leamon; noncertified instructional aide substitutes Jayne Serino and Allysha Weaver; and instrumental short-term substitute at CMS Spencer Koppenol.

Jolene Makovsky was approved as a student teacher or intern for third grade. Makovsky, a Kutztown University student, will work with Wendy Laubenstein.

The board voted to approve Anthony Brinkley as a volunteer assistant boys basketball coach. The board also appointed three new game workers for the 2019-20 school year. They are Jason Hartranft, Brian Reily and David Ascani.

The school board next meets 7 p.m. Dec. 3 for a reorganization meeting in the district board room of the administration building, 201 N. 14th St.