Friday, July 14, 2000

Withrow may owe fix-up to alumni

Contribution would allow $5M funding

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Money raised by the alumni association at Withrow High School may enable the district to complete $5 million in renovations at the school.

        Cincinnati Public Schools district will apply for federal Qualified Zone Academy Bonds — or the equivalent of interest-free loans — to install new windows and make other improvements to the building, said Kent Cashell, the district's business executive.

        Mr. Cashell presented plans to Cincinnati Public Schools' finance committee Thursday. He will present a resolution to the full board July 24.

        “We recognize fully that this is a first step,” Mr. Cashell said.

        A recent facilities study found Withrow needs more than $28 million in renovations. The alumni association's plans for an activity center would not be part of this project.

        School districts can apply for the federal funds for projects at individual schools, but there are requirements:


  • Schools must be in an empowerment zone or have at least 35 percent of students eligible for free and reduced lunch.

            ăSchools must also have a partnership with a business that makes a contribution worth 10 percent of the bond proceeds.

            ăProceeds from the bonds cannot be used for new construction.

            Withrow's alumni association has raised $500,000, which will be used as the 10 percent contribution.

            The bonds are designed to strengthen schools serving large concentrations of low-income families. The federal government subsidizes the 15-year bonds with tax credits.

            Created when Congress passed the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, Qualified Zone Academy bonds are like no-interest loans. For every $100,000 borrowed with no interest, the district gets $1 million in bonding potential.


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