District sells bonds at less than 3 percent
December 11, 2012
The Douglas County School District sold $9 million of bonds on Nov. 28 to fund improvements and upgrades to existing school buildings. Bids, which were received from four national underwriting firms, ranged from 2.9 percent to 3.4 percent. Piper Jaffray submitted the best bid with an overall interest rate of 2.9 percent.“We are thrilled with the fantastic interest rate we received,” said Superintendent Lisa Noonan. “This bond sale will allow us to get started on the first phase of the Douglas High School Master Plan.”The district’s bonds were rated AA- by Standard & Poor’s, which is among the highest rating for school districts in Nevada. In the rating, Standard & Poor’s mentioned the district’s good managerial practices and policies, strong general fund reserves and low debt levels, as well as strong wealth and income levels.“This rating is a reflection of the efforts of the board of trustees and district staff,” said Chief Financial Officer Holly Luna. “We are pleased that Standard and Poor’s recognizes the hard work and difficult financial decisions we make on a regular basis.”Additionally, the bond rating was enhanced to AAA, the highest bond rating, by guaranteeing the bonds through the state’s Permanent School Fund at no cost to the district. The guaranty program is administered by the State Treasurer’s office.“The combination of the district’s high rating, the PSF guaranty and current market conditions provided the framework for this exceptional rate,” said financial advisor Martin Johnson. “I can’t remember selling long-term bonds at such a low rate in the last 20 years.”With the bond proceeds, the district plans to begin the process of remodeling Douglas High School to accommodate ninth-graders. Additional bonds will be sold over the next few years to continue the renovations as well as other projects.In the 2008 general election, voters approved a 10-year authorization for the district to issue bonds as long as revenue from the district’s 10-cent debt service tax rate is sufficient for repayment.