082317-adh-nws-Oak Grove concept plan.jpg

A conceptual drawing for Oak Grove Elementary School would add a new cafeteria and gym, a larger cost likely to be covered by premium bond sales.

David Patton, Democrat-Herald

The Albany school district is getting more bang for its bond, plus taxpayers won't pay any more than originally estimated, thanks to a $6.9 million matching grant from the state.

Albany had applied for a state grant for additional bond funds if its $159 million construction and renovation bond measure were to pass. Voters approved that bond on May 16.

The district didn't anticipate receiving a grant because so many other districts had also applied, but ended up being the last to receive funds because of the number of bond measures that failed elsewhere.

The Albany School Board voted unanimously at its Aug. 14 meeting to accept $6.9 million in state matching funds. The district used that money to offset the number of bonds sold, telling underwriters to sell $152.1 million in bonds rather than $159 million. The state money makes up the rest.

Taxpayers will pay the same rate as originally estimated; about $2.35 per $1,000 of assessed value, said Russ Allen, the district's business director, because some of the bonds sold at a higher cost.

Because investors were interested in paying a premium amount for Albany's bonds, the sale generated approximately $28 million extra for the school district. That will be used to complete projects that may end up costing more than originally thought. 

Premium bonds are a benefit to banks, corporations and other large-scale investors because they allow the investor to pay more money up front but receive a higher interest rate, thus ensuring a larger cash flow in return over time, Allen said.

Oak Grove Elementary School at 1500 NW Oak Grove Drive is likely going to be one of the projects to benefit from the extra funds, Allen said. The bond called for the addition of an eight-classroom wing and a cafeteria to the school, but had planned to keep Oak Grove's current gym.

The old gym is small and doesn't work well in the design currently under discussion, however. That design involves purchasing two acres of land east of the current campus and reconfiguring Oak Grove to add both a cafeteria and a new gym on the southeast corner. If approved, the change means work at the school will cost an estimated $8 million* more. 

Sales agreements already have been signed for the two acres needed for the project and original bond funds cover that purchase, Allen said. 

The Greater Albany Public Schools bond oversight committee was scheduled to meet Monday to give its recommendations on Oak Grove's design. Those recommendations will come to the board on Aug. 28.

If approved, the design also calls for moving Oak Grove's front office to the east side of campus, next to a parent parking lot and dropoff loop. Staff parking and the bus loop will be on the west side of campus. 

Superintendent Jim Golden told board members this setup allows the school to consolidate public access needs — office, parking and gym — on the same side of the campus, the side most people are traveling from when they take Oak Grove Drive to the school.

* This figure has been corrected from the print version, which used earlier information that estimated a higher total.

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