School board members accepted a construction bid for the Carroll County Middle School renovation project during a meeting Thursday night.

The school board unanimously accepted a $7.7 million bid from Marrillia Design and Construction of Lexington. The company's bid was the lowest of nine bids submitted.

Marrillia's bid included a base price of $7.4 million for the project, with about $300,000 in alternate options for the project.

Board members had approved the renovation project - which includes a new gymnasium at the middle school - during a meeting in March 2013.

Plans also call for renovation of the old gym area for the school's STEM program and a redesign of the bus and parent loop behind the school.

The total project is expected to cost the district $8.9 million with construction, architects fees and other additional costs.

The board also approved the issuance of revenue bonds for the renovations project during the meeting. The district plans to bond about $3.6 million for the project.

Joe Nance with Ross Sinclaire & Associates of Lexington said the district had enough bonding available to continue with the project. Even though the district will have about $100,000 in bonding left after the issuance, Carroll County Schools will have additional bonding potential available in the new fiscal year.

"I'm happy to report we're in great shape," Nance said, noting the time couldn't be better to borrow money for a construction project with the lower interest rates.

"It's a good time to borrow money," he said.

Also during the meeting, school board attorney Jim Crawford discussed the Kentucky School Board Insurance Trust litigation now being presented in the Franklin Circuit Court concerning the trust's operating deficit assessment.

Because of a deficit, problems have been identified in the trust's workers' compensation fund and the property and liability funds.

Each school district involved in the insurance trust when the deficit began will be required to help pay for the missing funds, Crawford said. Carroll County Schools only has issues with its workers' compensation funds, he said, but the payback could vary from $95,000 to about $140,000.

Under a payback plan assessment proposed by KSBIT, the school district would be responsible for about $95,000 of the deficit. A payback plan assessment proposed by state's Department of Insurance shows the district would be responsible for more than $140,000.

Those assessments could increase should other courts determine that KSBIT members also are responsible for $8 million in surplus notes loaned to the trust by the Kentucky League of Cities years ago to help with the deficit.

The litigation concerning the assessments will go before a judge next month, Crawford said, but the district will be affected no matter the outcome. The Kentucky League of Cities lawsuit will be determined at a later date.

Crawford recommended the school board enter into an agreement to be represented by Bowling Green attorney Mike Owsley with English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley law firm at the hearing in Franklin Circuit Court.

Owsley represents other school districts throughout the state in the suit.

Crawford also recommended that the district issue a statement position against the repayment of the $8 million loan to the Kentucky League of Cities.

School board members unanimously approved up to $500 in legal fees for litigation representation by Owsley and the recommended statement position.

"On one hand, you've got problems," Crawford said, but other districts have even more problems than Carroll County.

In other business:

• Superintendent Lisa James honored school board member Mary Ann Pearson with a certificate for her work with the school board. Pearson was absent from the meeting last month when James honored other school board members for school board appreciation month.

• James recognized Tonya Hash as the district's Champion for Kids for going "extra and beyond" as a volunteer at Carroll County middle and high schools.