If all goes well, a project to repair Palmerton Area High School's faulty roof could go out to bid early next year.
Further dialogue on the district's list of project priorities was held at a workshop meeting of the board of school directors on Tuesday.
Last month, the board agreed to borrow an additional $5 million to fund maintenance and repair projects, with the stipulation that unused borrowed money be used to pay down the debt.
That decision came after two prior motions, one to borrow $5 million, and the other, to borrow $2 million, were defeated.
Also as part of that decision, the board agreed to refinance a pair of bond issues and the energy performance lease.
Business manager Lisa Vignone said that while the payments will go up, the district will not exceed the $1.6 million a year in debt service without impacting the amount of the loan payments for the next eight years.
As a result, the debt service for 12 years will be about $1.6 million, Vignone said, with the remaining four years at about $1.2 million, she said.
Had the board not agreed to borrow, the debt service would have decreased to $1.2 million in 2019, Vignone said. From 2020-2023, it would have been about $670,000, and from 2024-2026, about $470,000, at which point the district would have been done with its debt service, she said.
Rob Sarnowski of Barry Isett & Associates told the board at the workshop that a list of projects on its priority list was derived to the original list of 23 projects.
"A lot of the material was priced with projects of similar nature, or quantities of similar projects," Sarnowski said. "These numbers are pretty far from precise."
Sarnowski told the board there were ways it could increase the district's chances to get a grant to help offset the cost of the high school roof project, as well as the weightroom roof and bleacher system.
Superintendent Carol Boyce told the board it must determine the "money process."
"You need to determine at this point what the projects will be," Boyce said. "This could be your comprehensive list to start with."
Board solicitor David Shulman said the board should determine the projects it would like the bonds to encompass, as well as the architectural and engineer estimates as to what the projects will cost.
The consensus of the board was to have Isett's firm move forward with the process, which Boyce said will "narrow down the accuracy of the scope of various projects and look at facilities."
"The goal is to get as much done in the first year to two years as possible," Boyce said.
The board previously heard from representatives from Performance Roofing Systems, which said it could replace the high school roof for $900,000, complete with a 30-year warranty. Or, it could replace the high school roof for $600,000 with a 20-year warranty.
That came after a review of the board's project priority list in September showed the repair of the roof was clearly at the top of its to-do list.
In June, Alan Behnke of Tremco Roofing, said the cost to restore the high school roof would be about $583,090, and would include the restoration of the boiler room roof. Or, he said, the district could replace the roof at a cost of about $2 million.
Behnke also noted at that time the weightroom roof is also in dire need of repair, and added that it couldn't be done until the bleacher system is addressed. He said the cost to replace that roof would be about $133,076.
The district could also have done a combined project that would cost $350,000; $200,000 for the bleachers, and $150,000 for the roof, Behnke said at that time.
Next on the board's project priority list was the generator at S.S. Palmer Elementary; the junior high school gym floor, tiles and bleachers; Parkside Education Center building repairs; and high school renovations.
Projects that rounded out the top 10 were the junior high boiler; oil tank removal; tennis courts; S.S. Palmer steps; and the high school hot water boiler.
All told, the list of 23 projects on that priority list came in at $1,641,039, said Boyce, who cautioned the figure was a best guess estimate at that time.
In August, the board reviewed a potential three-year expenditure supposition created by Vignone at the behest of the board. The supposition presumed level funding on all department line items, as well as a 3 percent increase in salary and 5 percent increase in benefits in each of the next three years.
It also presumed a category known as other, which refers to the other agencies with whom the district does business, such as the Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit, outplacement providers where some of the district's students receive services, and places with whom the district has educational service contracts, whereby the district anticipates a possible 10 percent increase.
Boyce said at that time the district had lost $23,000 in grant funding it was counting on in the 2010-11 school year in the educational areas, and added that it appeared the only way it will be able to afford to pay for any major facilities and buildings and grounds projects is through the bonding process.