NEW IBERIA — The Iberia Parish School Board received news of significant financial savings during its regular meeting Wednesday night.
Board bond attorney C. Grant Schlueter presented the board with a financing option for the General Obligation School Refunding Bonds, Series 2013.
The bonds, originally sold in 2005 at an interest rate of 4.25 percent, were bid out for refinancing to 11 banks. Of the five that responded, Regions Bank had the lowest rate, 2.48 percent.
“It’s a hell of a refinancing,” Schlueter said.
The 1.77 percent reduction will save the taxpayers approximately $130,000 over the remaining life of the 20-year bond, and a net average of $10,824 annually.
“That’s remarkable,” board member Jay McDonald said.
The motion to approve the refinancing was unanimously approved.
Board architect Terrell A. Crochet presented a change order of $123,045 for additions and renovations to North Street Elementary School to bring the project closer to its $1.8 million budget.
The project was bid out on Feb. 6, and Minvielle Lumber Co. Inc. came in with the low bid at $1,978,000, almost $200,000 over budget. The change order reduces the cost to $1,854,955, close to $55,000 over budget.
Board members had some concerns about the changes and construction.
One change reduced the fence surrounding the school from eight feet to six feet.
“You could hop over that like it’s nothing,” McDonald said.
Crochet mentioned a three-strand barbed wire topping to the six-foot fence.
McDonald countered: “A good leather jacket will cover that.”
Crochet said the fence can be made taller later if additional savings can be found to cover the cost.
“It’s just where we have dollars to spend,” he said.
Board member Robbie LeBlanc took issue with the water that filled the school during a heavy rain that dropped some 4 inches on the town in one day.
Superintendant Dale Henderson explained that the drains were covered by layers of fallen leaves and were unable to function properly.
LeBlanc said, “Leaves is leaves, but how long has the piping system been there? You hate to do that much renovation to a school and then it’s gone.”
Board member Elvin Pradia echoed LeBlanc’s concerns.
“I think our problem is not really ‘our’ problem. I think ‘our’ problem is a ‘city’ problem,” Pradia said. “The drainage is never clean.”
The motion for awarding the school project bid to Minvielle Lumber was approved unanimously. Crochet said he would look into the drainage issue.
In other action, the board also unanimously approved a motion to grant substantial completion status to the Jeanerette Senior High School project.
“This is one of the nicest, most complete projects that we’ve done,” Henderson said.
The next board meeting will be at 5:30 p.m., March 20, at Jeanerette Senior High.