RIMERSBURG – Union School District officials agreed last week to take advantage of low interest rates to embark on a million-dollar roof project at Union High School.

At their meeting on Feb. 18, the school board voted unanimously to refinance past debt in order to provide additional funding for the $1,286,000 roof replacement and restoration project.

Union superintendent John Kimmel later explained that the the high school’s roof warranty expired in 2011, and work is needed.

“On the parts of the building where the roof is 30 years old, we have a need to update it so as to prevent damage to the building,” he said. “The project will include a replacement of 44 percent of the older portion of the building with a restoration coating being applied to the remaining 56 percent. The new roof will come with a 30-year warranty which will provide some assurance that we will not have water damage to the building due to leaking of the roof.”

Rather than using district financial savings, Kimmel said the district was able to restructure its existing debt so that it won’t be paying more each year than it already is.

“To finance the project, we have chosen to utilize the issuance of a note at this time, as interest rates are at a record low,” Kimmel said. “The cost of the project will be financed through a wrap-around note which essentially dovetails into the back end of our existing bond, which was originally issued for the 2007 renovation. This means that our overall yearly payment is virtually the same as it has been, but will be extended until 2028.

“We were fortunate to obtain an interest rate of 1.22 percent on the new bond for the project,” the superintendent continued. “During the process of securing a lender, we were also presented with the option of refinancing our existing bond at a rate of 1.04 percent which will net a savings of approximately $8,000 over the remaining life of the bond.”

Kimmel said work on the roof is expected to start sometime in April or May, with restoration work as weather permits. The conclusion of the overall project is set for the middle of August.

“We are utilizing Tremco for the project, which is the same company we utilized to repair the Sligo building a few years ago,” Kimmel said. “The actual contractor will be Triangle Roofing, which is also the same company utilized for the Sligo project.”

In additional business at last week’s meeting, the school board met with three of the district’s school bus contractors regarding payments for days when the district schools go into remote learning due to inclement weather.

The contractors noted that in the past when school was canceled due to snow and ice, bus contractors were eventually paid for the make-up days and did not lose revenue. Now, however, with the school opting to go remote rather than cancel school, the contractors said they were taking a hit financially.

So far this school year, Union has had two remote education days due to the weather.

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“It’s well worth paying them for two days,” board member Shelly Atzeni said, noting that the bus contractors have a huge responsibility in transporting the district’s children. “They’re part of our district and we rely on them a lot.”

Board president Brenda Brinker said she was concerned with setting a precedent if the board opted to pay them for the two days so far this year. However, she noted that she did want the contractors to receive some kind of payment.

During the time the district was shutdown due to COVID-19, officials said the bus contractors received their regular pay minus costs for fuel.

“They’ve got bills just like the rest of us,” board member Jeff Shirey said, noting that he supported paying them for the weather-related days in the same manner as the COVID days.

In the end, the board approved paying the contractors at the COVID rates, with a note that it was just for the two days so far this school year, and not precedent setting.

The discussion led into a talk about the district’s future with snow days, during which Kimmel explained that while in-person school is ultimately favored, a remote day this time of year when students are more likely to participate, is better than adding a day onto the end of the school year that can oftentimes be unproductive.

He said that he would like to see the district schedule two snow makeup days for the next school year, so that those days can be used first before deciding to go remote for additional weather-related days.

Other Business

• The board approved the retirement of cafeteria worker Pam Brinker, effective at the end of the school year. The retirement of educational aide Cindy Carr was also approved, effective May 27.

• Patty Bell was approved as a Homework Helper at Sligo Elementary School, and Johnathan Hagofsky was approved as an after school tutor at the high school, both at rates of $25 per hour.

• The following coaching positions were approved: Tiffany Sturgeon, first assistant softball coach, $1,450; Hannah Buckley, head junior high volleyball coach, $700; and Amy Wilson, first assistant track coach, $1,850.

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