The Canal Winchester Times

Canal Winchester High School in line for security upgrades this summer

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The main entry into Canal Winchester High School is in line for a facelift this summer in order to tighten security.

Superintendent Jim Sotlar told the Canal Winchester Board of Education Feb. 11 that the district plans to move the second set of entry doors farther into the building so that once someone enters, there is no direct access to the rest of the building.

In addition, he said, the district is looking into creating a doorway that will force visitors to pass through the main office once they enter the high school so they can sign in before they are allowed access to the rest of the building.

"It's just one way to help keep people from wandering our halls," Sotlar said. "It's not 100-percent foolproof, but I think it is a much more secure way for the high school right now."

Changing the entry for visitors is not the only security move being pursued, Sotlar said.

Security cameras in the building are at least 10 years old, so the district is looking into buying newer ones with a wider range to survey the doorways and parking lots of the building, he said.

Funding for these security measures will come out of the district's Classroom Facilities Maintenance fund that was approved by district voters in 1990.

The changes won't be done before summer because of the time needed to get the work done, he said.

In other business Feb. 11, David Conley, managing partner of Rockmill Financial of Lancaster, recommended the board refinance some of its eligible bonds in order to obtain a better interest rate. The bonds, which voters approved between 1997 and 2004, were used to purchase land, construct or renovate buildings and to furnish them.

"The IRS rule says that you can't issue new tax-exempt bonds to refinance an existing tax-exempt issue ... more than once before a call date (the time when the bond expires). However, the rule doesn't say that you cannot use taxable bonds to refinance tax-exempt bonds," Conley said.

"Typically, taxable bonds have a much higher interest rate than tax-exempt, so it has never been practical to use a taxable bond to refinance a tax-exempt one," he added.

By refinancing the bonds at a better interest rate, Treasurer Joyce Boyer said the district could save a substantial amount of money on the repayment of debt, which could save taxpayers money.

Currently, about $6.6 million worth of bonds are eligible for reissuance, she said.

"This reissuance of bonds at a lower interest rate is estimated to save the taxpayers a gross savings of $272,988.80, or approximately $35,000 annually on the repayment of debt," Boyer said.

Conley said nearly 30 districts in Ohio are eligible to reissue bonds, and half have already gone through the process to get a better rate. The other half, he reported, are also heading in that direction.

The board authorized Rockmill to move forward, although the process involves a lot of legwork to obtain a bond rating from Moody's before the new bonds can be sold to investors to replace the old ones.

If the interest rate continues to be favorable, the board hopes to have the bonds sold by March 13.

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