A recent School Board decision to refinance some of its outstanding general obligation bonds will save $454,243, officials say.

The district used a total of $5 million in bond funding to pay for classroom and facility renovations, including Smith River School's new gymnasium, said Deputy Superintendent Rodney Jahn. Bond money was also used to revamp the district's information technology infrastructure, he said.

It was part of an overall $25 million bond measure approved by voters in 2008.

Prior to the Board's March 14 decision, interest rates for the bonds ranged from 2.75 percent to 5.20 percent, according to a district press release. The refinanced interest rate ranges from 0.50 percent to 3.80 percent.

"We had the opportunity to save local taxpayers money and thought we should do it," Board President Don McArthur said in a written statement.

As a result, property taxpayers will likely see a reduced rate starting in 2014andndash;15, Jahn said.

The district currently has about $20 million in voter-approved general obligation bond funding that it has not used yet, Jahn said. While students are on summer vacation, an architect will conduct a needs assessment to determine what upgrades and renovations are needed at district schools, he said.

The needs assessment will be paid for by a grant from the California Endowment, Jahn said.

"Right now we're in the process of preparing our recommendations for what projects would be done and how much it would be," he said. "It could be anywhere between $5 million to $10 million for the next series."

Jahn said the needs assessment will probably come before the School Board in September.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com.