Sunday, October 21, 2018

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Chippewa Falls school district borrowing options reviewed

Board advised on referendum money, told it’s an ideal time to enter market

CHIPPEWA FALLS — Now that the $65 million school referendum is passed, the Chippewa Falls school board heard options Tuesday on how to borrow the money.

Brian Brewer, managing director of PMA Securities, walked the board through its bonding options. The board will vote on the borrowing package at its June meeting.

Brewer said the district will borrow the money over a span of two or three years. He provided good news that the district is entering the market at an ideal time.

“You won’t spend it all on day one,” Brewer said. “Rates are low. They can and will change every single day. There is more of a likelihood of them going higher than lower. We are at an abnormally low interest rate environment.”

The district hasn’t had debt in more than a decade, so it doesn’t presently have a bond rating, said Sara Schnoor, PMA Securities associate vice president.

“A bond rating provides an indication to the buyer of the district’s interest and willingness to pay,” Schnoor said.

Brewer compared it to a credit score — the higher the district receives, the lower the interest rates will be for the district.

Because of favorable borrowing conditions, it is possible the district could repay the loan in fewer than 20 years, he added.

The referendum features money to replace Stillson Elementary School on a 36-acre parcel in the town of Lafayette at a cost of about $22 million. 

It also includes construction and equipping of a classroom addition, capital improvements and repairs, technology upgrades, remodeling and site improvements at the middle school, and construction and equipping of a science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) lab addition, capital improvements and repairs and technology upgrades at the high school.

The preliminary goal is for the new Stillson to be completed in July 2020.

Brewer applauded the board for getting approval on the project.

“Congratulations on selecting a plan and receiving voter support on that plan,” Brewer said.


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