One such action taken was the thumbs up of an official intent resolution to apply for and use Qualified School Construction Bond proceeds as they build the future schools, while a related approved measure was a resolution of intent to use QSCB obligations to reimburse the district's general fund for monies used to pay expenses relating to the construction project.
Board members at their business session next week will consider approving Harper's building plan for the district, which entails building two elementary schools and one middle school during the fourth Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for schools.
Nearly 64 percent of Bartow County voters who went to the polls during the July 20 primary voted to extend the 1-percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Bartow County and Cartersville City Schools; the new SPLOST will begin in July 2012 and last for five years; the current SPLOST, also five years long, took effect in July 2007.
The planned schools in Harper's proposal are new Cloverleaf and Emerson elementaries and a replacement Adairsville Middle School.
If approved, his goal is to begin work on Cloverleaf next month with plans to start turning dirt on its construction in February or March.
Originally slated to be the first elementary school constructed, the district under the proposal would start the process for Emerson Elementary in 2011, while officials would look to start on Adairsville Middle in 2012.
"We had talked about building in Emerson, but we haven't purchased that piece of property yet. We have Cloverleaf," Harper said, adding that the timelines to build two elementary schools could possibly overlap.
"The architects that we're talking with currently, and my desire is to have that information to you in September, [are saying] 'Let me build two, I can build two cheaper for you than I can build one -- the services I would bill you for would be cheaper if I built two,'" Harper added.
District leaders in the past have also discussed the need for a new facility to replace the current Adairsville Elementary. Board member Larry Parker expressed his desire to see a new elementary school in Adairsville before a new middle school.
"I just went by there to the elementary school this morning, and people were actually having to park on the baseball fields to bring their children in and things of that nature," Parker said. "I just feel like that we have outgrown that particular facility, and I would love to see the elementary school built before the middle school."
Harper said he has heard Adairsville community members' desires to see a new elementary school built first, as well as to have one or more schools remain near the heart of the city. A decision on which will be built first, he added, likely will be made after Cloverleaf and Emerson, though the middle school could remain next on the list since the system already has land for it. District leaders in 2007 purchased land adjacent to Adairsville High for a future middle school.
Officials this September could learn if their application for QSCB funds will get the green light. Harper said the funds they are applying for are not guaranteed, while Chief Financial Officer Todd Hooper told board members that getting those federal funds would be a big financial help to the district.
"By qualifying for these QSCB bonds, we're able to borrow these funds without having to pay any kind of debt-service costs to the local taxpayers. What happens is the people who buy these bonds get tax credits for actually purchasing [them]," Hooper said. "The reason that's important is, as you've heard Dr. Harper mention, we want to be able to build three schools, or possibly four schools. Our application is for $50 million in QSCB bonds -- from what I've been told, that's the maximum we can apply for. We take those bonds and then we build the three schools, and in addition to that we would issue another $20 million worth of bonds, general obligation bonds.
"These first $50 million bonds, there's no debt service costs, which means for the most part, the $50 million would go straight to bricks and mortar, so to speak," he added. "That's a pretty significant amount of savings there just off that and the fact that we issue these bonds prior to the collection of SPLOST proceeds, generally we would have to put some of those proceeds aside to pay the debt service ... which would be close to $1.7 or $2 million. That's $2 million more that we have to go toward building our schools."
Board members during the called meeting also approved a resolution declaring the results of last month's SPLOST vote, as well as a resolution validating that the district intends to issue $70 million in general obligation debt to help acquire land for and construct its future facilities, make technology improvements, refurbish existing facilities and purchase school buses.
More coverage of Monday's board work session will appear in The Daily Tribune News later this week.