• 61°

City school board refinances its long-term debt

Messenger Publisher

The Troy City School Board finalized the second step in its restructuring on long-term debt on Monday by approving the sale of $4.775 million in bonds.

The refinancing was the second in a two-step process, prompted by the funding crisis of proration in 2001. "Last spring, right about a year ago, we were

hit with proration," consultant Rush Rice told the board. "Many people did a lot of things to get through fiscal year 2001."

Troy City Schools developed a two-part strategy. "One was a quick fix, the other was a permanent funding solution," he said.

Hank Jones, superintendent of the district, said that "quick-fix" last year eliminated any debt service payment for fiscal year 2001. The refinancing approved on Monday restructures the largest remaining part of the board’s long-term debt and will result in annual debt service payment of less than $487,000.

"We set about to with two objectives," said Rice, who works with Blount Parrish and Associates in Montgomery."One was to reduce the school board’s debt service. The second was to get the school board ‘on its own.’"

Previously, the school board had issued its debt through the city, which sold the bonds to pay for the construction of Troy Elementary School in the early 1990s.

That was "because the funding source was about to expire," Rice said, referring to the ad valorem school taxes which were renewed by voters in March. "Now that those three ad valorem taxes have been renewed, the school board stands on its own."

The city will retain $1.6 million in debt, but the remaining amount ­ some $4.7 million ­ will transfer to the city school district with this bond issue.

"It’s big news at city hall because some $4 million comes off their books," Rice said.

More important, he said, the school district should be pleased with the AAA rating it earned from Moody’s and Standard and Poor, as well

as the guarantee from the Municipal Bond Insurance Association. Those ratings indicate high confidence in the district and its financial stability, he said.

The bid for the bonds was awarded

to Sterne Agee & Leach of Birmingham, the only company to submit a bid. The company quoted an effective yield of 4.85 percent.

Jones said the district will use proceeds from the refinancing to fund remodeling and renovation projects.

In other business, the board:

· Approved the 2002-2003 school calendar. Students will return to class on Aug. 5, for a half day, and the last day of classes is May 30, 2003. Four early dismissal days are added to allow for teacher in-service during the afternoons on Sept. 4, Nov. 6, Feb. 5, March 5. And, the district will also observe the Memorial Day holiday on May 26. "Traditionally we haven’t observed Memorial

Day because it’s during the last week of school which is not the most opportune time," Jones said. "But the Legislature

has decreed we will."

· Accepted

two resignations and four retirements. Resigning are Donna Caldwell at Troy Elementary and Sherry Flowers are Charles Henderson Middle School. Retiring are Merilee Rump at child nutrition program; TES teacher Cornelia Graham; CHHS teacher Calvin Griffin; and CHHS counselor Rick Stetson.

· Arppoved payment of bills, payroll and accounts. As part of his report, Jones said that sales tax revenues appear to be increasing slightly. He said school district tax revenues for March were more than $125,000

higher than the $84,335 collected during March 2001. Part of that increase is due to the allocation of the second cent of the sales tax levy. However, he said, that second portion is not an across-the-board tax and certain items are excluded.