Grant Wood rendering, front

This is a rendering of the front of the new $16.7 million Grant Wood Elementary School, Bettendorf.

Contributed art

With various construction projects on the horizon in the Bettendorf Community School District, officials have decided to look at bank financing to supplement traditional public funding methods.

Dallon Christensen, finance director, reported to the Bettendorf School Board on Monday that external funding will be needed for various district projects.

Funds from the 1-cent sales tax are now being used to construct the $16.7 million Grant Wood Elementary School.

Sales tax funds come into the district every month. In addition, the state pays the district each year in November, Christensen said.

The expenses of the Grant Wood project mean Bettendorf will need external funding. That will be based on the collateral the district gets, from the sales tax, now set to expire in June 2029.

The district is in very sound financial health, Christensen said. Bettendorf has a solvency ratio — an indicator of financial health — of 20 percent, and sufficient money in the reserve fund.

All that remains, Christensen said.

But if a multi-million dollar HVAC construction project for Bettendorf High School is added, there would be additional need for funding. "This is why Tim Perkins (the board's treasurer) and I are meeting with banking partners for bank financing," he said.

The finance director said he was using very conservative projections in his financial report. 

"The banks are offering very attractive financing rates," Christensen said, a reflection of the district's financial health and stature. "We fully anticipate a competitive financing rate in the public's best interests," he said, not naming numbers as negotiations are ongoing.

"Money is still reasonable to borrow," said Board President Gordon Staley.

In related action, the school board heard from Randy Fuller, Estes Construction, on progress at the new Grant Wood Elementary School.

Bidding on the next phase involved contract awards to 20 contractors, and four alternate contractors. "We are pleased with what we heard," Fuller said, referring to a contracting session held last week.

In general, the bids are coming in lower than original projections, and Bettendorf is able to upgrade parts of the project. For example, there will be bigger windows and window frames to allow for better caulking joints, among other benefits, Fuller said.

Board member Paul Castro questioned Fuller on the playground equipment. The $350,000 cost includes equipment like what is currently available at Grant Wood, as well as two special rubber surfaces on the ground, Fuller said.

The Bettendorf board agreed last February to spend $16.7 million to build a new school at 1423 Hillside Drive, the location of the current Grant Wood Elementary School. It is planned to be completed next August.

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