DALLAS - Oklahoma County Independent School District No. 89 will issue the first debt from a $248.3 million bond package approved by voters in October 2007 with Thursday's competitive sale of $24.2 million of general obligation bonds.

The bonds are structured with a rapid maturity schedule. Final maturity is set for 2012, with $8.07 million of the principal maturing annually in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

The district intends to sell the bonds over 10 years, said John Scanlan, chief operations officer for the Oklahoma City public school district.

"The board of trustees made a promise to voters before the bond election in 2007 to keep the property tax for debt service at the current level of about 16 mills as these bonds are sold," he said. "Our sales schedule will reflect that pledge."

Scanlan said the next two annual bond sales are projected to be smaller, about $6 million in 2009 and $8 million in 2010, before increasing to sales of approximately $60 million after about five years. He said the district expects to exhaust the 2007 authorization with a final sale in 2018.

The 2008 bonds have not yet been rated, but the district's GO debt is rated Aa3 by Moody's Investors Service and A-plus by Standard & Poor's. With the sale, the school district will have $180 million of outstanding GO debt.

The Public Finance Law Group PLLC is the school district's bond counsel. Financial adviser is Oppenheim, a division of BOSC Inc.

The proceeds will provide $15.5 million for new school facilities, $4.1 million for new buses and other transportation needs, $2.4 million for improved technology, and $2.2 million for security and safety projects.

Scanlan said the proceeds will be used to add classrooms and build a number of elementary school gyms to satisfy the state requirement for physical education instruction, as well as to buy buses and install heating and air conditioning systems at several schools.

"Most of the need is due to our aging schools, but we are adding some capacity," he said. "We now have mandated early-childhood programs for four- and five-year-olds in Oklahoma, and we see that as a potential for enrollment growth."

The bond program won approval from 72% of those voting in October 2007. It builds upon the MAPS for Kids program that was approved by Oklahoma City voters in November 2001. The MAPS program, financed by a seven-year sales tax that rose from the initial 0.5% to the current 1%, will generate $358 million for the Oklahoma City district and $153 million for the 23 other school districts in the county by the time it expires on Dec. 31.

"There's been very good cooperation among the public schools, MAPS for Kids, the city council, and the business people downtown," Scanlan said. "It's been a strong alliance, but we're going to lose that money soon."

The 2007 authorization includes a total of $212 million for facilities, $21.2 million for classroom technology, $7.3 million for replacement of about 60 district buses, and $7.9 million for safety and security improvements.

The district serves a population of approximately 260,000 residents and has an enrollment of slightly more than 36,000 students. The district operates 11 high schools, eight middle schools, and 56 elementary schools, and serves as the pass-through agency for state funds to 12 charter schools.

 

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