North Marion bonds sell at $4.4 million premium
- Lindsay Keefer
- Woodburn Independent - News
North Marion School District now has $4.4 million more for construction projects than what voters approved thanks to a successful bond sale last week.
In November 2017, voters approved a $42.2 million bond for the district's school renovations and safety and security upgrades. The bonds were sold at a premium of $4.4 million, meaning the district now has $46.6 million with which to complete its promised projects.
"The day before there was a drop but the day of (the sale) there was a rally and, due to (Business Manager) Linda Murray's hard work we had an excellent credit rating that made it very attractive to investors. We sold out in an hour," Superintendent Ginger Redlinger said.
The district is legally obligated to keep the bond money strictly for the projects listed in the voter's pamphlet, even the extra $4.4 million.
"We know from our experiences listening to neighboring school districts that recently had bonds and construction issues, things that popped up that cost more money," Redlinger said. "So when you have a premium that helps offset costs."
Similarly, in its August 2015 bond sale, Woodburn School District received a $9.7 million premium in addition to the $72 million bond amount it passed in May 2015.
The premium isn't the only good news. Taxpayers will actually see some savings, Redlinger said, as the group selling the district's bonds, Piper Jaffray, was able to negotiate the assessed value per $1,000 down from $1.86 (what voters approved) to $1.84.
"So they're getting what they voted for and they're getting it for less money," Redlinger said. "Anything that we can do for the community takes top priority. We'll manage that money wisely, that's the bottom line. If we can squeeze a nickel out of every penny, we're going to do it."
The money will be delivered to the district by the end of the month, Redlinger said.
The district has also selected a project management company that will serve as the district's representative throughout the duration of the bond projects. The company, Wenaha Group, is from the Pendleton area and specializes in representation small school districts.
"Their goal is to leave the community better than when they arrived," Redlinger said. "Not only will they work with the school district, but they're highly involved in getting local people engaged in projects."
The firm has already stationed a trailer on the campus, dedicating one full-time person to this project. This person will meet with architect DLR Group, with the education design team (made up of teachers) and the bond oversight committee (made up largely of community members). The bond oversight committee will be meeting with and reviewing general contractors in the coming weeks.
The first project "out of the chutes," Redlinger said, will be the high school track, starting as soon as the last track meet is over this spring.
Redlinger said it's imperative to keep lines of communication open with the community, staff and students as the district progresses to the next phase of the bond projects.
"One statement (made by a teacher) we all agreed with is we want our school to feel like home," Redlinger said. "That will be a driving concept for all our work, with whatever we're doing. We'll think how can we make this the best it can be, … to meet the challenges of digital education and a changing world and also make students feel like this is their home."