TCS to address capital plans Monday

Published 9:57 pm Thursday, September 16, 2010

When the Troy City Schools Board of Education meets on Monday, capital improvements will be on the top of the to-do list.

Board members will be reviewing their annual capital plan, which must be submitted to the state Department of Education for approval. And, based on the superintendent’s request to the city council earlier this week, that capital plan could be a significant departure from the more conservative plans in recent years.

“I think it’s safe to say we’re looking at refinancing our bonds because the interest rates are at an all-time low,” said Dr. Linda Felton Smith, superintendent of the Troy City Schools.

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Earlier this week, she approached the Troy City Council seeking support for restructuring of the school board’s $7.5 million bond debt, based on recommendations from investment experts. Based on several different scenarios, Felton-Smith said, the school system could generate $4.5 million to $14 million for capital improvements by reissuing the bonds.

The city council could support the school board by establishing a Public Education Building Authority, which is an entity created solely for the purpose of issuing bonds for public education within the city. Or, the council could choose to assist the school board by helping issue the bonds.

Meanwhile, the school board members have been working to develop the state mandated capital improvement plans, Felton-Smith said.

“In our discussions about what’s needed in the system, our first priority is going to be technology,” she said. “We want our students to graduate with the technology skills to compete with other students.”

Plans will probably include adding additional technology to all classrooms; adding more computers to the system, particularly laptops; and providing professional development for teachers so they can better incorporate technology into their teaching process, she said.

And, as part of the strategic plans outlined during the 2008 strategic planning process, Felton-Smith said the board members are reviewing the facilities as well “to establish priorities.”

“There may be additions as well as new facilities,” she said. “Remember, Troy Elementary School is our newest facility, and it is 21 years old. Additional space is needed over there now.”

The need to address facilities was raised as part of the five-year plan developed in 2008. It addressed “improving facilities and planning for growth,” and Felton-Smith said the system is at the point of addressing this objective.

“And we’re approaching the time where we need to start working on our next five-year plan,” she said.

The school board meets at 5 p.m. Monday at the board room in the school system offices on the Elba Highway.