The Pasco School District has sold $221 million in bonds, allowing several construction projects to move forward. The projects, including construction of a new comprehensive high school, were part of a bond measure approved by district voters this past February.
Along with the new high school, the bond measure will help pay for building a college and career academy, improving district athletic fields and facilities, improving learning spaces for Career & Technical Education programs at Pasco and Chiawana high schools, and buying land.
“The district and board are thankful the bond sale was so successful, lessening the tax impact on district residents,” said Michelle Whitney, superintendent of the Pasco School District, in a statement. “We understand the trust imparted to us as a public school system and truly appreciate the support of the community. Now we can begin the construction phase of the process and look forward to providing improved facilities for our students."
In Washington, school districts use bond measures to help pay for capital projects, such as building new schools. If voters approve a district’s measure, then the districts issue bonds, with the buyers paid back over time using money collected through property taxes.
The Pasco district projected a property tax rate of $2.16 per $1,000 of assessed value for its February bond. But it appears the rate will actually be lower, saving property owners money.
“Market conditions on the day of (the bond) sale proved advantageous as the district achieved an actual borrowing cost of 3.84%, which projects to a future bond tax rate of $2.07/$1,000,” district officials wrote in the statement about the sale.
The sale also refinanced the district’s outstanding 2013 bonds, reducing the debt due on those bonds by $2.9 million over the next six years, the statement said. Combining the refinancing with the issuance of new bonds also reduced issuance costs, the statement said.
The district has a high credit rating of Aa3, the statement said, noting that the rating agency considered factors such as the district’s healthy resident income and wealth, enrollment numbers that are stabilizing and recovering, and consistent voter support.
The district also secured an enhanced rating for the bonds through its participation in the Washington State School District Credit Enhancement Program, the statement said.
Investors use credit ratings to help determine whether to buy bonds.
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