MSA granted final expansion approval by cityMath and Science Academy got final approval last week to borrow $11.5 million to expand the school and build a gymnasium.
By: Riham Feshir, Woodbury Bulletin
Math and Science Academy got final approval last week to borrow $11.5 million to expand the school and build a gymnasium.
Woodbury City Council accepted the school’s application Oct. 24 for a conditional-use permit to add the 31,000 square foot gymnasium and 10 additional classrooms in an adjacent building.
Math and Science Academy (MSA) is located in the southeast quadrant of Radio and Pioneer drives.
The development already includes 136 housing units and eight acres of commercial units.
The new building will be adjacent to the current one. School officials say the expansion is needed due to increasing student population and lack of gymnasium space inside the building.
Enrollment is expected to go up to 500 students by the school year 2016-17, Woodbury Community Development Director Dwight Picha told the council at the meeting.
The Planning Commission recommended approval of the school’s application for expansion earlier this month, but added a few conditions to the permit.
Commissioner Irfan Ali said the school will have to add a pedestrian crosswalk between the existing and the new building, as well as bus and staff parking.
He added that one neighbor who attended the meeting requested that students park in the school’s parking lot and not on back streets.
Ali said the school has worked to resolve parking issues in the past and will continue to do the same after the new building opens next fall.
Council Member Amy Scoggins wondered about the “lifespan” of the expansion and if the school will need to add on more space in just a few years.
“It seems like there is quite a bit of growth,” she said.
Picha said the one-acre lot the school owns, and the existing building, are the only two spots available for MSA to expand.
“It’s been a very successful school,” Picha said, but added there will be no more room for expansion in the future.
School officials said the expansion will allow for more students who’ve been on the waiting list to enroll.
But before any construction begins, the school needed to borrow $11.5 million in lease revenue bonds, which is where the city came in to approve the limited obligation bond.
Picha explained it’s not a general obligation bond to be paid by the city and it’s not secured by taxing powers of the city.
It’s a standard mechanism for nonprofits to access bonds through local government in order to borrow tax exempt, according to the city’s bond counsel.
However, MSA will pay administrative fees of about $14,000 to the city to process the bonds.
MSA used conduit bonds when it opened in 1999. The school refinanced in 2002 to get a lower interest rate, said Cyndi Bluhm, treasurer of the MSA Building Company, which owns the school.
The school wanted to take advantage of an even lower interest rate this year by borrowing the $11.5 million for the expansion, she added.
A portion of those funds will cover old bonds that the school will then pay off, combining it all into one bond with the lower interest rate.
School officials said construction of the new building is expected to begin in November.