In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the governing board of the Lake Havasu Unified School district directed its bond underwriter – Phoenix-based Stifel – to issue and sell the second round of bonds set at $18 million.
The interest rate on the debt is not to exceed 4.75 percent, but trustees were told by Stifel agents that the rate may likely fall just under 3%.
Because the school district has become more financially fit, it qualifies for a lower interest rate. In June, the district was notified that its bond rating with Moody’s had been upgraded to Aa2 from Aa3. The decision by the bond rating agency translates into lower interest rates on school bonds and lower costs for Havasu’s taxpayers.
Stifel, an investment banking and brokerage firm, also issued the sale of $16.9 million in district bonds in 2017. That money covered the $8 million overhaul of Lee Barnes Stadium. Another $2.75 million was spent on new flooring for all district buildings. Also with the money, purchases included new buses, software licenses, new paint in the schools, a district-wide video surveillance system and other deferred maintenance projects that were necessary to keep students and teachers in a safe and up-to-date learning environment.
The district’s Business Services Director Michael Murray said the bonds are expected to go out in October.
With this second round of bond dollars, planned renovations and projected costs include Thunderbolt’s football field and track ($1.5 million) and the high school’s baseball and softball fields ($2.4 million). A stadium restroom-storage building is expected to cost $600,000. Also, three new school buses at a cost of $575,000 will be purchased from Canyon State Bus Sales.
In 2016, more than 13,000 Havasu voters approved a $49 million bond. The money is earmarked to help improve infrastructure issues throughout the district’s nine schools and administration office.
The plan was to sell the bonds every three years. The last and final round will be sold in 2023.
Dependence on bond money has been reduced when possible. The district has turned to Arizona’s School Facilities Board to fund occasional building renewal and deficiency corrections. The board administers capital finance dollars funded by appropriations from the State of Arizona’s General Fund. Recent examples where the funds were granted in Havasu include chillers for the high school and Smoketree Elementary.