The district plans to build new schools that would replace the existing Cloverleaf and Emerson elementaries and Adairsville Middle. Board members during a called meeting Tuesday gave the district the go-ahead to enter two bond purchase agreements with Robert W. Baird & Co.
One agreement will see the purchase of $47 million in tax-exempt bonds that will have maturity dates in 2013 through 2016. Another agreement will see the issuance of $23 million in taxable, direct pay qualified school construction bonds with maturities in 2016 and 2017. No interest will be paid on the latter set of bonds, and all the bonds will be purchased on or before a Dec. 1 closing date.
"It is a fantastic time to be borrowing on different accounts. Rates are very low, and then your contracts and construction prices are also going to be very attractive, so you're getting the most for your dollar on both sides at this point in time," said Brian D. Ubell, vice president of Public Finance with Baird, who gave a presentation on the bonds to board members.
Baird last year re-sold the district's 1999 general obligation bonds to take advantage of better interest rates. The move was made to save the district an estimated $325,000, but kept the bonds' maturity dates between 2011 and 2014.
Ubell said May 2014 is when the system is set to make its last payment on those 2009 bonds, which will close out the district's property tax-supported debt. A portion of the district's Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax proceeds goes toward paying off bond debt.
"[It's] thanks to the voters but also this board for bringing these opportunities for [SPLOST] referendums forward so that you could pay off general obligation debt, which would have otherwise been a millage on, of course, the tax bill," Board Attorney Boyd Pettit said.
Bartow County voters in July gave the green light for the district to issue this year $70 million in general obligation debt to help acquire land for and construct its future facilities, make technology improvements, refurbish existing facilities and purchase school buses. The authorization was a part of the approved continuation of the local education SPLOST, which will see the 1-cent tax continue to be levied for five more years starting in July 2012, with its proceeds going to the county school system and Cartersville City Schools.
"By the end of this next SPLOST period, we'll have at least three brand new schools, and hopefully four, and we'll be debt-free thanks to the taxpayers here and the actions of this board," Harper said Tuesday. At Monday's board work session, he said the fourth school the district hopes to build is a new Adairsville Elementary.
Cloverleaf is expected to be the first facility built of the three planned replacement schools, and board members Tuesday also approved a fiscal year 2012 Capital Outlay Application that could see nearly $3 million more go toward the construction of the future school.
Rick Little, director of Construction and Planning for Bartow County Schools, said Monday that Southern A&E of Austell had finished its architectural plans for Cloverleaf, and construction bids for the project are due Dec. 8, which would give board members the opportunity to vote on a bidder later in the month.