Meg Hibbert Contributing writer
Renovations at Salem High School moved another step closer Monday night after Salem City Council approved issuing up to $34.7 million in general obligation bonds for the school and other city projects.
The action would take effect 10 days after council’s action on a second reading, later this month.
It was a unanimous council vote at the public hearing, where no citizens spoke.
Council also approved issuing $30 million in bonds to refund other bonds, for savings to the city by refinancing some debt. Those bonds date to 2010, 2015 and 2016.
Councilmember James Martin remarked this is a good opportunity to re-invest on the city side.
Director of Finance Rosie Jordan explained the market is right for Salem to make this move now, when interest rates are low.
The bond issue would allow the city to finance renovations to the high school that opened in 1977, to purchase equipment and make improvements to infrastructure which were deferred for several years.
Renovations at Salem High School are planned to be completed before school opens in August 2022.
Salem City Council approved a tax increase in the summer to help finance borrowing the city needs for the project. The school division has about $2.6 million on hand for SHS renovations, built up in recent years for the purpose.
The school system is using that to cover costs of design fees, new furniture and fixtures, according to Salem School Superintendent Dr. Alan Seibert.
Students are expected to continue having classes at the school, and the school system does not plan to use modular classrooms and trailers.
Planned upgrades are for heating and cooling systems and more natural light in the building.
Classroom spaces and corridors will also be expanded to take care of projections in enrollment, school officials said.
The high school’s front office will be torn down, and a new, more secure front entrance be constructed.
Local firm G&H Contracting had the low bid at $26.3 million, and was awarded the contract for the high school. South Salem Elementary School was also built by G&H.
Also at the March 9 council meeting, Salem City Council:
- Approved on second reading a zoning change request by Henmark to allow conversion of property on Kesler Mill Road for a four-unit multi-family unit. The vote was 4-0 with an abstention by Councilman Bill Jones, who owns an adjacent property.
- Approved transfer of a $90,000 donation for the Salem Animal Shelter from an individual’s estate. The money would go for upkeep of the animals and other expenses.
- Heard that the Salem Police Department has no objections for renewal of taxicab licenses for the next 12 months for four firms. They are Reid Taxi, Yellow Cab Services of Roanoke, City Cab and B. Early Cab Service.
The 17-minute meeting adjourned at 7:47 p.m.