OSHKOSH – The Oshkosh Area School District will save just over $9 million by refinancing some of its referendum-related debt in November 2020.

The school board voted unanimously Wednesday night to convert $42 million of its debt from a 20-year bond to a five-year bond. District officials predict the move will save taxpayers $9.2 million in interest.

During the discussion, board members were happy to endorse this, with all members speaking after a brief presentation.

In November 2020, Oshkosh voters approved a referendum that gave $107 million for the implementation of the district’s long-term facilities plan to eventually consolidate 20 schools into 14.

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Much of this funding will be used to build the new Vel Phillips Collegescheduled for completion in fall 2023, and a new primary school in fall 2024.

The new college has closed approximately $4.6 million more than the original budget forecast due to rising material costs and, with projections that costs will continue to rise, the district said it was looking for “ways to absorb the higher prices.”

By paying off debt in five years instead of 20, the district can also apply for new debt while “softening the blow” of increased tax levies, said Drew Niehans, executive director of business services for the district.

The move will allow the district to better prepare for the second phase of its facilities plan, Niehans said, creating an opportunity to borrow $150 million in 2026-27 to shore up Perry Tipler and Carl Traeger colleges and build a new South Park Middle School.

“It doesn’t speed up the phases, but if timed correctly, it can have less impact on ratepayers while allowing the district to invest in its students, schools, and community,” Niehans said.

The board also approved the repayment of $2.1 million in debt using available funds, saving $118,597 in total interest.

Contact Bremen Keasey at 920-570-5614 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @Keasinho.