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Harford schools to finance $16 million for energy improvements at 2.01 percent

Harford County Public Schools will finance the third phase of its system wide energy improvements initiative through JPMorgan Chase Bank at an interest rate of less than 2.1 percent.

The contract, which carries a lower interest rate than projected, was approved by the Harford County Board of Education during its most recent meeting in Bel Air on Dec. 3.

On Oct. 22, the board approved a contract for phase three of the school system's energy initiative with Johnson Controls Inc. for $16,069,958.

Through these energy improvements, the school system will be able to save enough energy and operating costs to cover the debt payments for financing the improvements.

The total being financed is $14,248,426. Six bids were received to finance the initiative.

JPMorgan Chase Bank had the lowest bid of an interest rate of 2.017 percent, with total interest payments of $2,931,474.19.

"We were very pleased," said Jim Jewell, assistant superintendent of business services. "They are extremely favorable terms."

The financing will take place over a 17-year period, two of which will have construction for the project take place.

Board President Rick Grambo asked Jewell if the favorable terms "enhance the positive nature of the payback of the project."

Jewell agreed that it did, adding that he had originally hoped for an interest rate of 2.75 percent, "so the lower interest rate does enhance the project."

Policy updates

The board also approved revisions to three system-wide policies on epinephrine availability and use, prohibition of gang related activities and school activity funds.

To coincide with a new state mandate, the policy on epinephrine availability and use will now address training for school personnel and how to recognize symptoms of anaphylaxis, procedures for administering auto-injectable epinephrine and follow-up procedures.

The school system's policy on gang related activities, as suggested by the Maryland State Department of Education, will now reflect that the school system will use the standard gang-related incident reporting form.

The revised policy on school activity funds will now define school activity funds as "funds held in the name of the school, derived from school sponsored activities and maintained in the school bank account(s)," which includes fund raising proceeds, cash donations and "other funds received at the school level that are not allocated through the HCPS operating budget."

The policy also addresses the use of school activity funds, the spending of those funds, the purposes for why they may be collected and guidelines of disbursements.

According to the new policy, "school activity funds shall be used for school-related purposes and shall promote the general welfare, education and morale of the students and staff of the school."

In addition, "effort shall be made to spend funds within the school year in which they were received or within a reasonable amount of time after receipt. Funds may be set aside for a specific future purpose provided the purpose is clear and legitimate."

Next meeting Dec. 17

The Harford school board will hold its next business meeting on Dec. 17, at the A.A. Roberty Building, 102 S. Hickory Ave. in Bel Air. On the afternoon of Dec. 17, Arthur F. Kaff will be sworn as the board's newest member during a brief ceremony in the board meeting room.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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