School bond gets good marks |

School bond gets good marks

Mary Thompson

Bonds to be sold August 25 from Lake Tahoe Unified School District’s $17 million Measure C get high marks from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s financial rating service.

After examination of the school district’s finances, management practices and other outside factors such as the economic conditions of the city, the ratings given were “A” and “A-3,” respectively.

Although a few notches down from the highest possible rating of AAA, the ratings are considered upper medium grade – an exceptionally favorable mark for a small school district like LTUSD.

“They know we haven’t settled with the teachers (on their contracts) and that student enrollment is down – those are negative things,” said Joe White, LTUSD chief financial officer. “But they really liked our conservative approach to the way we do business.”

LTUSD’s financial advisor Chuck Youtz, from George K. Baum and Associates, gave a presentation at Tuesday’s school board meeting and said the district’s 6 percent reserve for economic uncertainty, as opposed to the mandatory minimum of 3 percent required by the state, was a major factor in earning the favorable rating.

The district also purchased bond insurance to push the rating to the highest mark of AAA.

Youtz said the honorable rating will save money for taxpayers in the district, who will be paying for the bond through taxes levied on assessed property values. He also said he expects the tax rate to hit or fall below the target of $32 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

“The district’s board and administration should be complimented on its management of finances,” said Youtz.

White said the district should see money from the sale by September 9. but not in the total amount of $17 million.

Instead, $8.9 million of the $17 million bond measure will be sold on August 25. As construction on school sites moves forward, two other bond sales from the same measure will take place at later dates. The next sale is expected in 2002.

While the district waits for the first wave of bond money, one bond-funded project – the addition of a science wing at South Tahoe Middle School – is already under way. The second project, at the Mt. Tallac Continuation High School, will likely begin in the next few months.

Bond Measure C was passed by voters in a special election held in May. The money can only be used for school site improvements.

Other items at Tuesday’s school board meeting included:

n An assessment report of the district which included a summary and review of STAR testing results, parent survey results and highlights of the 1998/1999 school year.

n Approval of the advanced placement agreement with the Lake Tahoe Community College.

n Award food bids for the 1999/2000 school year.

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