Schools get $3.37M

Published 1:21 am Friday, October 30, 2009

Funding for a $375,000 upgrade at Opp’s Channel-Lee Stadium and $3 million for repair projects at each of the county system’s schools was announced Thursday by Gov. Bob Riley’s office.

The money is part of $236 million in interest-free bonds that will finance the construction or repair of public school buildings. Each of the 46 systems that applied received funding.

“Modern and safe schools will help better prepare our students for the future,” Riley stated. “With these bonds, systems can repair, renovate, and construct much-needed schools while also stimulating our economy.”

CCS interim superintendent Terry Holley said board members are extremely excited about the funding.

“This money will give us a chance to earmark some funds for repair to each of our buildings and maybe some classroom additions,” Holley said. “We’re looking at the long-term picture for our system. This is interest-free money, which is a great opportunity for us.”

Opp Superintendent Michael Smithart said the system first thought to use the money to renovate the gym at Opp Middle School. That plan has changed, he said.

“We’ve received permission to amend our application to allow us to partner with the city of Opp to provide a much-needed renovation to Channel-Lee Stadium,” Smithart said. “Our stadium is in dire need of repair, and by combining these funds in partnership with the city, I believe we will be able to update our facilities.

“This particular bond issue and the terms of the payback were really too good to pass up,” he said. “We’re excited about upgrading our stadium. With the construction of the new school, the renovations to the gym at Opp Middle School and the work at Channel-Lee, I believe we will have our facilities on par with anyone, and that is something we are extremely proud of.”

The bonds are part of a new federal program created by the economic stimulus law that Congress passed earlier this year. The Qualified School Construction Bond program provides tax credits to bondholders, as opposed to tax-exempt interest, which allows bonds to be offered with no interest.

Gov. Riley signed a law earlier this year allowing the state’s Public School and College Authority (PSCA) to issue the Qualified School Construction Bonds for local school systems. Using the PSCA saves money for local school systems on bond issuing costs and annual payments.