J'Ville sells bonds for lower interest rate

Published on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 23:52 - Written by FAITH HARPER fharper@tylerpaper.com

Jacksonville Independent School District taxpayers will see a marginally smaller bill than anticipated following its 2013 bond election.

Superintendent Joe Wardell said the district budgeted for a 5 percent interest rate on its $22.785 million bond to build a brand new West Side Elementary and renovate Ni­chols Intermediate School.

The district was able to sell the bonds at a lower rate of 4.25 percent.

“We felt like (5 percent) was very conservative,” Wardell said. “We are not going to make promises we can’t keep, but we felt like we would be able to sell the bonds lower.”

The original rate would increase the taxpayer’s bill by 8.5 cents, but the lower rate comes in at 8 cents. For a home with a $100,000 value, the difference will be $5 a year and $125 over the 25-year term of the bond.

The district will construct a brand new West Side Elementary campus on College Avenue land acquired from Lon Morris College. The campus will hold 530 students and be modeled after the current East Side Elementary Campus.

Renovations at Nichols Intermediate School include adding eight classrooms and a larger band hall, Wardell said.

The renovations will add extra space and security.

“We are proud of the fact we have been able to eliminate 18 portable buildings over the last couple of (years),” Wardell said. “Once this construction happens then we will eliminate 10 more. ... It’s not that portables are the end of the world, but they aren’t secure like a enclosed building.”

Wardell said the board approved selling the bonds in January and anticipates receiving the funds this month.

Construction is anticipated to start in the summer and take approximately a year to build.

The district has been building and renovating for several years, after voters approved a nearly $50 million bond in 2010.

“It puts us in a very good position for the future,” Wardell said. “There are still some areas that need renovations but as a whole that puts us in a very good position for the future.”