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Shenango school board members were presented with a financial analysis during a work session last night from a Harrisburg-based financial advisor concerning a potential sports complex project for the district.

"Some obvious ways that you can finance projects as a school district are to borrow money or from cash reserves," said Zach Willard of PFM Financial Advisors LLC. "Typically in Pennsylvania, once projects get above a certain threshold, which doesn't take a very much, school districts typically need to look in capital markets to fund these projects because it's hard to build high cash reserve levels."

The proposed sports complex presented at last month's meeting by Superintendent Michael Schreck features a batting cage, weight room, track, volleyball/basketball court and football/soccer turf field. An outdoor artificial turf field is also included in the complex.

The approximate estimate for the project is $4.9 million.

"There's really three ways that you can access the markets," said Willard. "The most common way in Pennsylvania and across of the country is through a public bond offering or bond issue."

The other two ways are through private placement with a local bank and bond pool loan.

"They (banks) do have an appetite to loan school districts money," said Willard. "Now there's different pros and cons, and that's going to be a big part of the discussion as to whether you do a bond issue or a private placement with a local bank."

Willard referenced a conversation with Schreck where they discussed a dual track approach as possible option, which the board would do a combination of two options. They would receive bids from banks and also compare interest rates in capital markets.

John Colella, a candidate for school board, rose the concern about the possibility of going over budget.

"I did some quick numbers myself, the $4.9 million isn't going to be enough because I guarantee you'll be five to 10 percent over," said Colella. "There isn't a project I've ever done that's hit the number right on the button."

"Have you never been under the budget?" asked board president Denise Palkovich.

"On building a new building? No," replied Colella.

Randy Angelucci presented a cost proposal comparison and summary for the artificial field stadium renovation.

According to the proposal, one of the total estimated project costs is $1,299,278. This includes such items as demolition, storm water management and facilities and conduit for future electrical infrastructure.

Another estimate for the project is $1,207,190.13, which deletes three miscellaneous improvements.

In other news:

•John Colella asked Palkovich about an agreement to sell land for $350,000. Colella said he was told money was not exchanged. Palkovich said she would check with the assessor's office. 

•Jeana Colella implored the board to institute more STEM programs in the district. 


Maria Basileo is a news reporter. She covers Laurel and Shenango school boards and municipal government.

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