Loan To Fund School Improvements

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While students recharge their attention spans over summer vacation, three Payson schools will undergo extensive and much-needed improvements thanks to a $2 million interest-free loan.

Payson Unified School District Business Manager Bobette Sylvester said the principal of the loan, called a Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) loan, will be deposited today in district bank accounts.

The district's first priority is adding new air conditioning and heating to Rim Country Middle School classrooms.

The school board last spring approved $747,069 out of the $2 million. That portion of the project is now under way.

The second priority is remodeling the 40-year-old "old main" building on the Payson High School campus.

With remaining money, the district plans to remodel the rest rooms in the Julia Randall Elementary School Rock Building.

District Administrator Sue Myers said the improvements are much needed because the district has neglected its infrastructure for years, opting instead to allocate most of the budget to improving salaries and employee benefits.

"Personnel matters have taken priority," she said.

Myers also said the interest-free loan makes the upgrade project more affordable.

Sylvester said the district will save more than $300,000 of interest over the next five years.

QZAB loans, Sylvester said, begin as federal grants and are eventually allocated to each state.

"When the state gets them, schools can apply for them," she said. "Which is what we did because there is no interest."

Sylvester said the loans can be doled out interest free because the lenders receive federal tax credits for funding them.

The bid for remodeling of the aging PHS old-main building was approved by the school board at its May 31 meeting.

According to Sylvester, the architect -- Thom Bohlen of Oracle Architecture in Phoenix --hould have the bid documents ready in about a month. When finished the requests for proposals will be advertised and accepted.

The remodeling of the building will include a new roof, improved heating and air conditioning, construction of a centrally located reception area, updating three science classrooms and constructing offices that will house all high school administrators, their secretaries and the school resource office.

Also, some exterior improvements will make the building more contemporary.

The completion date for the project is still to be determined.

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