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Debts taken on as long as nine years ago at Indiana Area School District will be refinanced at current low interest rates to save the district more than $247,000.

The school board Monday evening agree to borrow almost $8.8 million from Key Government Finance and in turn pay off what remains of bonds taken out in 2012, 2013 and 2015 for various district construction and improvement projects. One month ago, board members explored the refinancing with a hope of saving $50,000 of long-term interest.

The new interest rate is less than 1 percent.

The loan covers only the old debts; the board decided against borrowing additional funds to meet current maintenance and upgrade needs, an idea that had been floated at the directors’ meeting in early December. The new bond will be repaid on the same schedule as the original debt, achieving savings through lower annual payments.

Financial adviser Jamie Doyle of PFM and bond attorney Chris Brewer guided the directors through the steps Monday. Doyle said most bond refinancing efforts aim for an improvement of 2 percent in interest rates. The offer Monday, 0.94 percent fixed with no bank fees and no penalties for full prepayment, would cut rates by 2.83 percent, Doyle said.

Brewer said the final legal papers to complete the borrowing would be ready for closing on Feb. 16.

In other business, the board:

• Renewed and expanded an agreement with Indiana University of Pennsylvania for speech and language pathology services by university students in Indiana’s early primary grades.

The program now has four IUP students serving in Ben Franklin Elementary School and will grow to a complement of 10 students assisting 50 to 100 students in Ben Franklin and East Pike schools, Vuckovich said.

The agreement passed on a vote of 6-0. Directors Ute Lowery and Tamara Leeper, who work at the IUP department providing the service, abstained, and board member Julia Trimarchi Cuccaro was absent.

• Accepted the resignation of paraeducator Ruth Thomas due to retirement, effective immediately, and Alex Clark due to relocation effective Jan. 4. The district will advertise to hire replacement paraeducators.

• Hired Jose Estevez as a long-term guidance counselor effective Monday (Jan. 18) through the end of the school year at daily pay of $247.93.

• Hired Veronica Norton as a long-term substitute teacher retroactive to Dec. 11 through March 30 at daily pay of $247.93.

• Hired Maria Kokolis as a long-term elementary substitute teacher beginning upon completion of all paperwork through the end of the school year at a daily rate of $247.93.

Staff Writer/Web Editor

Chauncey Ross represents the Gazette at the county courthouse; Indiana Area and Homer-Center schools; Blairsville, Homer City, Clymer, Center and Burrell; and is something of an Open Records, Right to Know and Sunshine Law advocate in the newsroom.