Maryville Schools gets $20 million loan to build Coulter Grove Middle

The city of Maryville School System got word Sept. 10 that they would receive a $20 million no-interest loan from the state to cover the cost of building Coulter Grove Middle School.

The project had been stopped in November of 2008 because the weak economy’s effects on the bond market forced the city and the school board to postpone the project.

On Aug. 18, the city and the school board met in a special called meeting where the school board asked the city council members to request the funds. After a lengthy discussion, the city councilmen unanimously agreed to submit paperwork asking for the funds.

Maryville City Schools public information officer Sharon Anglim said they found out the good news late in the afternoon on Sept. 10 during a live streaming on the Internet from the Tennessee State School Board Authority meeting.

“Needless to say, we’re very excited about moving forward with the project,” she said “Berry Brooke with Waller-Woods has indicated that the project could take as much as 18 to 20 months to complete. Basically this is an interest-free loan for us. It’s not only great for the economy but great for the community and great for the school system.”

Anglim said the school board hoped to get the project restarted as quickly as possible. “It’s kind of like resurrecting a dream for us,” she said. “It’s so fantastic.”

The $20 million loan was part of $180 million of federal stimulus funds funneled through the state to communities throughout Tennessee.

Stephanie Thompson, director of Maryville City Schools, said the application window for the bond program was extremely short. “We had 14 days from the time we attended a meeting in Nashville to learn about the program until the bond application was due. Nine days into that 2-week time frame we presented our proposal to city council and school board members in a joint session. After that, we pulled the paperwork together and our facilities director, Richard Harbison, actually drove down to Nashville to deliver our application and supporting materials hours before the deadline,” said Thompson. “We appreciate the city council, school board and city manager’s office for their support. It took a team of people to create the comprehensive set of documents that resulted in our selection.”

Thompson said the programming component of the application was completed by Rick Wilson, John Sevier Elementary School principal and future principal at Coulter Grove Intermediate School, and Jan Click, Maryville Intermediate School principal, with input from several teachers.

Representatives from Johnson Architecture, Lawler Wood and Merit Construction had several building and site related sections to complete.

“Staff from the Maryville City Schools central office and the City of Maryville worked on other sections, and then we pulled it all together the night before it was due,” said Thompson. “This was a joint effort that required a great deal of time, and we appreciate everyone who had a hand in completing the application.”

Thompson thanked State Sen. Doug Overbey, State Rep. Joe McCord and State Rep. Bob Ramsey who were instrumental in making contacts at the state level.

“In the short term, we are anxious to begin construction on Coulter Grove Intermediate as soon as the bonds are issued,” she said. “In the long term, we are thankful for this opportunity to save the city taxpayers $20 million (plus) in interest on the life of the bonds necessary to construct this new school.”

Communities throughout Tennessee will receive financing to build or repair schools as a result of the Tennessee State School Bond Authority’s (TSSBA) action on Sept. 10.

The TSSBA agreed to sell more than $180 million worth of Qualified School Construction Bonds as part of a program created by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

After the bond sale, the TSSBA will invest the proceeds from the sale in the state’s Local Government Investment Pool (LGIP) until communities need money to pay expenses related to their school construction projects.

Unlike other bonds that the State sells which pay semi-annual interest to the bondholder, tax credit bonds provide a federal tax credit to certain investors on a quarterly basis.

The communities authorized to receive portions of the bond money will be required to spend it on the projects within three years of the bond sale. The sale is expected to be completed with bond proceeds available for disbursement in late November.

Additionally, the communities are required to enter into binding contracts for at least 10 percent of their allocation of the bond proceeds within six months after the bond sale.

The communities will be required to repay their loans according to schedules worked out with the TSSBA - or risk the state intercepting their state-shared taxes to meet the annual debt service requirements.

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