Good bond news of interest

School district's improved credit rating means savings for taxpayers

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COEUR d'ALENE - The Coeur d'Alene School District's successful sale this week of general obligation bonds is going to save taxpayers $2.1 million in interest costs.

Voters went to the polls Aug. 28 and authorized the school board to issue $32.7 million in bonds to finance renovations of five aging schools and infrastructure upgrades throughout the district.

The school district's bond underwriter, Eric Heringer of Seattle Northwest Securities, and Danielle Quade, the district's bond counsel, briefed board members Thursday following the sale of the bonds on the retail market.

Heringer told trustees the school district's recently upgraded Moody's credit rating of Aa2 contributed to the marketability of the bonds.

"That's a nice win, and one notch higher than we'd been anticipating," Heringer said.

The Boise School District is the only other school district in Idaho with a higher credit rating.

School officials were also able to take advantage of historically low municipal bond interest rates that continued to fall until this week's sale.

"We wanted to sell as quick as we could and as far away from the November election," said Wendell Wardell, the school district's chief operating officer.

The district had to wait 40 days for the election protest period to pass before the sale could commence. Seattle Northwest Securities took the district's general obligation bonds to the retail market the first day after the challenge period expired.

"This is a great set of circumstances for you, with the low construction costs and the low interest costs ... we're really excited, and as a Sorensen mom, I'm even more excited," Quade said, during Thursday's meeting.

The projected interest rate of 2.65 percent, calculated as part of the pre-election bond planning, would have cost $5.7 million in net interest. At 1.9 percent, the interest costs will be $3.8 million over the 13-year repayment term.

Trustees adopted a resolution Thursday agreeing to the details of the bond purchase contract and locking in the interest rate.

The district is currently reviewing requests for qualifications in order to select architects to begin the design phase of the five school renovation projects: Canfield Middle School, Borah Elementary, Bryan Elementary, Sorensen Elementary and Winton Elementary schools.

The district expects to retain architectural services with the next 30 days and hopes to break ground on the first phase of construction in March.

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