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FWCS board OKs loan for $119 million build project

– The Fort Wayne Community Schools board Monday authorized the district to begin the process to borrow money for its voter-approved, $119 million building project.

The $7 million in bonds authorized Monday is the smallest in the series, said FWCS Chief Financial Officer Kathy Friend. The money will be used for introductory costs such as architect and design fees, site preparation, bid documents, consultant and advisor fees and financing.

Because of the scope of the project, it will take the district three or four years to spend the $119 million, Friend said. The bonds will be taken out as needed so the district isn’t paying interest on money not immediately required for construction, she said.

The $119 million project will address repairs and renovations at 36 of the district’s buildings in most need of upgrades on masonry, windows, heating and cooling systems and flooring. In 2013, the district will begin its major projects at Harrison Hill Elementary, Memorial Park Middle and Snider High schools.

The district will pay off this first series of bonds through tax increases in 2013 and 2014. Friend said the district will be diligent in making sure it doesn’t increase taxes any higher than it promised in the ballot question voters approved in the spring, to add $27 per year for a $100,000 home.

The board’s authorization to borrow money also required a public hearing, which was held within the regular board meeting. No one from the public came forward to speak during that designated time.

The next step in the process is a common wage hearing, scheduled for today. The hearing will set a minimum wage for positions associated with construction projects. Other units of government will participate also, Friend said.