Chehalis School Board Discusses Capital Projects Funding


The Chehalis School District held a workshop and public hearing to discuss what to do with the excess funds left over from the bond passed in 2015 to build two new elementary schools.

There is about $820,000 left unspent from the bond funds and by law, it must go toward capital projects or debt service. The school board discussed both options on Tuesday evening.

The total cost to build both schools was about $63 million including the $36 million school bond and about $27 million in state funds.

“Even though the remaining bond amount is relatively small compared to the entire project — $820,000 is a lot of money for our school district and our community,” Heather Pinkerton, director of business and operations said to the school board. 

If the school board chooses to put the funds toward debt service then the district can pay down the existing bonds faster, but the district’s financial counsel has advised that this is not wise to do so within the first 10 years of a bond lifecycle.

“We did our bonds at a fairly low-interest rate and a lot of districts don’t end up with any residual. There are too many remaining things that we could use the bond on,” Pinkerton said. 

The school board was more interested in the capital projects option, which means the excess funds can be used for acquisition of land, building, purchase of equipment, energy audits and capital improvements. The funds could also be used to lower the cost of a future bond, Communication Coordinator Andrew Lynch said.

The school board brought up various projects the money could possibly go toward in the future including a press box, repaving parking lots and improvements to the aging middle school.

No one from the public spoke during the public hearing. Pinkerton proposed that the district leave the money in the capital projects fund and she will bring a resolution to the school board in January and the board members agreed. No action was taken.

In the school board meeting following the workshop, the school board nominated and elected Dr. Brennan Bailey to serve as board president and Larry Petersen to serve as vice president in 2021.

Chehalis School District Superintendent Christine Moloney presented former board president Colleen State with a “token of appreciation” for her service as board president in 2020. 

“You have done amazing things on the school board and in Chehalis — we want to make sure a recognize you for your service and dedication to the students,” Moloney said.