Hebron schools carrying most debt per student

2013-04-21T00:00:00Z 2013-04-22T13:01:01Z Hebron schools carrying most debt per studentBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com
April 21, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Hebron far outpaces the other six school districts in Porter County when it comes to the amount of debt per student.

The district has $40.5 million of debt looming over it, which is the equivalent of $35,715 per student, according to Indiana Gateway of Government Units, an online public access data base of local government finances.

The district is followed by the East Porter County School Corp. with $59.6 million in debt, or $24,832 per student.

The Hebron schools, which are officially known as the Metropolitan School District of Boone Township, are buried under so much debt they are one of only four districts statewide eligible for relief by refinancing loans with today's lower interest rates, said Bill Gall, a consultant with the Educational Services Co. of Indianapolis.

The four districts, which also includes Hanover Community School Corp. in neighboring Lake County, have until Jan. 1, 2014, to decide whether to take advantage of the relief, Gall said.

Boone Township Superintendent George Letz said the district's level of debt is due in large part to the construction of the $25 million Hebron High School in 2005.

The district also has a low assessed valuation and lost $410,000 in revenue last year due to the tax caps, he said.

Porter County's biggest school district, Portage Township, carries the largest overall debt at $94.3 million, according to Gateway. Yet, it has the lowest per-student ratio of $11,691.

Valparaiso Community Schools has $82.1 million of debt, or $12,794 per student; Duneland has $72.7 million of debt, or $12,281 per student, East Porter County has $59.6 million of debt or $24,832 per student; Porter Township has $25.8 million in debt, or $16,956 per student; and Union Township has $22.3 million of debt, or $13,657 per student, according to Gateway.

Porter Township School Superintendent Stacey Schmidt said the district, which falls third in the debt load per student, will soon experience some relief.

Two loans, each less than $2 million, for facility upkeep projects, have been paid off, she said. The debt for the construction of Boone Grove High School in the 1990s is also set to be paid of in the next few years.

"When that high school rolls off, it's going to make a significant difference in our debt," Schmidt said.

The district, however, experienced a $25 million loss in it assessed valuation as a result of the most recent reassessment, she said.

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