Bond on new school explained

Published 9:00 am Thursday, February 29, 2024

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A representative from Stifel Financial Corporation presented at the Chambers County School Board meeting on Tuesday. David Coyne discussed some updates with the school bond which will go to pay for the new Chambers County High School.

The CCSD is currently drafting documents to meet with a rating agency to secure the bond. The district will meet with various agencies to secure financing. 

According to PIMCO, an investment management company, a bond is issued by a government, company, or in this case, a school district. Investors who buy bonds are lending money to the school district selling them. 

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“When we look for the rating agencies, we have a book that we do that discusses the local economy, the school management, board management, the financial position of the school and the projects that are ongoing with the board,” Coyne said. 

The rating allows buyers of the bond to see how good of an investment the bond is — in other words, if the seller, the school district, will be able to pay the investor or investors. The CCSD is going to be selling a 30-year bond, which they will pay interest on as well as the principal or the total cost the bond was bought for at the end of the 30 years. Typically longer-term bonds like a 30-year bond have higher interest rates. 

However, Coyne told the board this is unlikely to be an issue when paying. He said the short-term rates are actually higher than the long-term rates. 

“Once the bonds are issued, the money just sits in an account and earns interest, which the last few years hasn’t hadn’t been very much,” Coyne said. “Now the board can actually earn almost exactly what you pay in interest. So during the construction period, the carrying cost on the bonds is basically zero.”

Coyne said that they hope to go to the rating agencies sometime next month and be able to start selling bonds by late May. Once bonds are sold and financing secured, construction can begin. There will be a couple of times during the process when Stifel will need to come to the board to sign documents or approve resolutions to move forward before bonds are sold.  

Superintendent Casey Chambley has made promises that the district will not ask to raise taxes to pay for the new school and will be able to pay the bond. 

Paying the 30-year bond has been a concern for members of the public, including the Chambers County Equity Initiative (CCEI). The group was present at the meeting with signs. Their showing was after the LaFayette council members came out against the MOU which prohibited signs. Board President Jefferey Finch began the meeting by addressing the group.

“The law is that CCSD board meetings are business meetings in the public, it is not a public business meeting. There is a difference… Let me make this clear, these signs you got, if they get to be disruptive to this board or in front of somebody else then I am going to ask you to leave,” Finch said. 

The group stood off to the side and no action was taken.