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Brent Leong takes his class to Piper Jaffray, an international investment banking firm

Eight business students from Oregon City High School got a real-world look at financial operations by attending the school district's bond sale.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Marketing students from Oregon City High School had the rare opportunity to witness the sale of their district's school bonds while learning about finance careers.On Dec. 11, teacher Brent Leong took the class to Piper Jaffray, an international investment banking firm with a public-finance department located on the 36th floor of Portland's Wells Fargo Center skyscraper. They joined school district officials as $158 million in construction bonds were placed on the market. On a volatile market day, demand for the bonds was high, and virtually all bonds offered for sale were purchased within 30 minutes.

Piper Jaffray underwriter Carol Samuels talked students through the process and structure of bond sales, premiums, arbitrage and opportunities in investment careers. Oregon City School District Operations Director Wes Rogers described the construction projects that will result from the investment.

"Oregon City schools are seen as a secure investment, so our bonds are highly rated. That is why they sold so quickly on such a volatile market day," Rogers said. "High demand reduces costs and provides the opportunity to earn premiums on the sales. Those extra funds can help us complete more projects and address fluctuations in construction costs."

The school district's next step is to plan and schedule the long list of bond construction projects approved by voters in November. These include security improvements for every school, added middle school capacity and upgrades to aging buildings.

"Because of the complexities of construction permitting and our work to ensure efficient spending, most projects will begin in 2020 or 2021," Rogers said. "However, there will be some security improvements we can make as early as next summer because they do not involve construction."

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