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Refinancing to fund more building rehab for Buffalo schools

WBFO News file photo

The Buffalo Public School District  will have an additional $18 million to spend on rehabilitating school buildings, thanks to the refinancing of older bonds at current, lower interest rates.

Years ago, when city schools were being rebuilt under the supervision of the Joint Schools Construction Board, the school system borrowed nearly $1.5 billion to pay for it. Now, the school board is working with the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to refinance $148 million of those bonds.

Because of today's much lower interest rates, the refinancing will generate about $18 million over the next three years that can be used for future projects.

The district's chief financial officer, Geoff Pritchard, said that money, which will be available in two years, will go into capital projects for building improvements and additional repairs at  at buildings already rehabbed.


"Joint Schools Construction Board has been going on for more than a decade so something that wasn't in need of repair 10 years ago might be in need of repair now. So, those types of items are all part of the five-year plan that the Plant Department has and that's essentially how they plan out what they are going to spend on and then this money allows them to help us to do that," said Pritchard.

Pritchard said during the original rehab project, parts of the original plans for buildings were often scrapped when money ran low. This new money may be used to complete those plans, or to renovate parts of buildings that were fine when the original work was done but are in need of repairs now.

Interest rates for the new financing will be set in September.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.