DALLAS — The Cherry Creek School District, one of the largest and most affluent school districts in Colorado, will go to market next week with $101.8 million of general obligation debt, including $86.7 million of taxable Build America Bonds.
Competitive bids on the bonds are due by 12 p.m. Eastern Standard Time next Tuesday. Public Finance Associates is financial adviser.
Ratings have not been issued, but an identically sized issue last year drew a AA from Standard & Poor's and a Aa2 from Moody's Investors Service.
Since then, financial conditions have tightened for the district, which is located southeast of Denver and includes a large section of the suburb of Aurora.
As the legislature seeks to eliminate a $1 billion shortfall in the state budget for fiscal 2011, school districts have suffered cutbacks in their allotments from the general fund.
Cherry Creek officials recently learned the state will reduce the district's funding by $8.1 million, $1.4 million more than officials had expected. This is the first time in the district's history that revenue has decreased from one year to the next, even though the district continues to grow.
"Given the current information from the state, we will need to cut at least $13 million from next year's budget," said superintendent Mary Chesley. "Each week we monitor the legislative session, and unfortunately, there may be additional cuts to K-12 education statewide."
All schools and district departments will recommend where cuts could be made.
"We're committed to keeping cuts as far away from the classroom as possible," Chesley said. "But that is a challenge because in school districts, it's typical that more than 80% of budgets fund teachers and staff members who support learning."
To ease confusion among voters about the cutbacks two years after they passed a $200 million bond issue, the district explained that bond funding covers construction and renovation, while state funds support operations. In 2008, voters also approved a mill levy increase that provides $18 million in operating funds to help the district maintain current programs and obligations.
"The passage of 3A and 3B, combined with the district's sound fiscal management, put Cherry Creek in a better position to weather the state's budget crisis compared to some of our neighboring districts," Chesley said. "We will continue to deliver the educational excellence our students deserve while working with the financial resources that are available to us."
From the 2008 bond authorization, the district has already begun building a $14 million Institute of Science and Technology scheduled to open in 2011.
Gov. Bill Ritter joined city and county officials, as well as staff and students from Cherry Creek schools, on Jan. 25 to break ground on the 58,000-square-foot building between Overland High School and Prairie Middle School in Aurora.
The school will offer students from sixth to 12th grades specialized instruction in science, engineering, technology, and math.