PHOENIX - Oregon has inaugurated the use of a new state program managed by the Oregon Department of Education that offers a dollar-to-dollar match of up to $4 million to districts whose voters approve local bonds.
State Treasurer Ted Wheeler announced that a just-completed state general obligation bond sale will help finance a number of school-related construction projects in 13 school districts, and marks the successful first installation of the Oregon School Capital Facilities Matching Program.
OSCIM, pronounced "awesome," was created by the 2015 state legislature and will help finance some $313 million of projects in this first installment. The state bonds issued to support it were formally issued Wednesday and totaled $43.2 million, according to the final official statement.
"When we invest in Oregon's education infrastructure, we are investing in our future," said Ted Wheeler.
Wheeler is finishing out his term as treasurer. He's the mayor-elect of Portland after winning the position outright in a May primary.
The GO bonds priced with yields ranging from 0.8% for a December 2017 maturity to 2.35% for the December 2036 maturity.
Morgan Stanley was lead manager.
The state credited strong demand for the GO bonds along with their high ratings of AA-plus, Aa1 and AA-plus by Fitch Ratings, Moody's Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings respectively.
The pricing and sale occurred on Oct. 5.
Salam Noor, Oregon deputy superintendent of public instruction, praised the program for enabling school investment to improve outcomes for students.
"The school facilities matching program will make a positive impact in the lives of children, and is meeting the goal of partnering with local communities to invest in their school facilities," Noor said.
The list of projects includes a new vocational technical education building in McMinnville, a new elementary building in Milton-Freewater, and seismic and safety upgrades in seven districts.
McMinnville was the largest local participant in the first wave of OSCIM participation, issuing $89.4 million of bonds and receiving $7.1 million in matching funds through the program.
Hood River County was the next largest, issuing $57.2 million and receiving a match of $4.5 million.
Several localities issued only the $4 million of local bonds and so received a 100% match from the state.
Additional local school measures that are eligible for the matching grants will be considered by voters in 11 other districts on the November ballot.
Some districts can get up to an additional $4 million in matching funds dependent on the amount of the local levy approved and the district cap established by the program's funding formula.
Application forms and other information regarding the program, including information about the funding formula, is available online through the state Department of Education.