- Grove City, Pennsylvania

December 7, 2012

GC staff realign as school chief prepares for cancer treatment

Board refinances GCMS bond

By Felicia A. Petro/Senior Reporter
Allied News

GROVE CITY — Grove City Area School District's superintendent is being forced to take two months off from work, but he is counting his blessings despite a new health problem that has come to light.

Dr. Richard Mextorf described his surgery next week at UPMC Passavant, Pittsburgh, to remove colon cancer as "getting my plumbing fixed," at Monday's school board meeting. Mextorf said he was diagnosed with the disease two weeks ago.

The superintendent beat testicular cancer earlier this year. He recently had his six-month exam to make sure he will still cancer free, when a CAT scan "found something" in his colon, he said after the meeting.

The cancer is "localized" and Mextorf's doctors believe he will recover, he added.

Mextorf is expected to recover for two months post operation, including a two-week stay in Passavant, he said. The colon cancer is unrelated to the testicular cancer, which hasn't returned, he added.

George Junior Republic Principal James Anderson will be acting assistant superintendent while Mextorf is recovering; assistant GJR Principal Andrew Kemper will act in Anderson's position and GJR teacher Jennifer Nemet - whom the superintendent called "a rising star" - will act as assistant principal at GJR.

At the meeting, Mextorf said that he would "be comfortable" asking any one of his administrators to take on his position while he's gone.

However, he believed choosing the three GJR employees was "the best move to maintain continuity, create the least amount of disruption and have an opportunity to grow leadership in our district," he said. "I'm excited about the opportunity for these folks and I know the district is going to be in great hands."

The remaining staff are on board with the plan "and committed to make sure this goes without a hitch," Mextorf said, adding the district administrators have "stepped up to the challenge once again and said 'Anything we can do to make this easier ... and make sure we keep our direction moving forward.' So that's an awfully nice feeling to know that things around the shop will be taken care of," he said

While in their temporary roles, which began yesterday, the board approved Anderson to be paid $450 a day; Kemper, $325; and Nemet, $300.

Pointing out the district's administrative team in the audience, "I just would like to express my extreme gratitude to our folks on the front row here," Mextorf said. "I'll be back as soon as I'm healthy enough to get around, but I'm hopeful and optimistic."

In other business:

■ The board approved refinancing a bond it took for $9,995,000 to finance its new middle school, which has been in operation for more than a year.

The 2009 bond has been paid down to $6,875,000 at an average 3.4 percent interest rate, but the board allowed a maximum of $8,040,000 to be taken out to pay off that amount and whatever additional expenses to refinance the loan.

There is to be no less than a 2 percent savings for the district on what's refunded times its current loan amount.

Leslie L. Bear, managing director of public finance at the Exton, Pa. office of investment firm, Robert W. Baird & Co., Milwaukee, convinced the board last at its Nov. 5 work session that the poor economy has created record-low interest rates for bonds - a 1.4 percent average - and the district could save more than $212,500 in refinancing.

Bear added at Monday's meeting that the Nov. 6 election brought rates down lower after President Barack Obama was re-elected.

After the meeting, he said it was expected because of the uneasiness over the president's initiatives to raise taxes for his health care law and for families with higher incomes.

If contender Mitt Romney would have won the election, those in Bear's field predicted that interest rates would have gone up.

Higher interest rates stimulate the economy, Bear added, although taking advantage of the lower rates will create a savings for the district.

Attorney Chris Brewer of Dinsmore & Shohl, Pittsburgh, also attended the meeting, and will be working with Bear - who said it will be four weeks before documents are ready and he can to look to the market for a new bond issue.

"We're going to get absolutely as much savings as possible," Bear said, or the refinancing will not be allowed to go through, keeping the district with its current bond and rate.

Published Nov. 14, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201A Erie St., Grove City.