The sale of the first series of Bond Measures N and O brought good news for Turlock residents and students alike, as more funds than expected will be available for projects to improve the Turlock Unified School District at a less-than-anticipated cost to taxpayers.
On Nov. 8, both measures were approved by more than two-thirds of voters, with 68 percent voting in favor of Measure O and 69 percent voting in favor of Measure N, authorizing the issuance of $48 million in general obligation bonds for facilities at Turlock high School, Pitman High School and Roselawn High School (Measure O) and $40.8 million in general obligation bonds for facilities at elementary schools throughout the district (Measure N).
TUSD has already begun work on the first projects funded by the measures, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning improvements at Pitman High School and security fencing at elementary school sites. At a workshop hosted by the district on March 13, school needs for the sale of the first series of bonds were discussed, including a parking lot and drop off at Dutcher Middle School, office realignment at Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy and complete modernization at Turlock High School.
At the March meeting, both Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Mike Trainor and Director of Maintenance and operations Scott Richardson emphasized the importance of using the school bond funds properly.
“We want to make a point of saying although there are many needs and many wants in the district, anything and everything that we take on will have to align with our commitments to the community,” said Trainor.
“It’s our responsibility to make sure with our voters that we meet the intent of that bond,” added Richardson.
On April 18 and 19, TUSD sold the first series of Measure O bonds ($14.7 million) and the first series of Measure N bonds ($12.5 million) to winning bidders Raymond James & Associates, Inc. and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Both series of bonds received eight competitive bid proposals from investment banks across the country, which proved to be beneficial according to a report given by Facilities Planner Martell Taylor at the May 2 TUSD Board Meeting.
More competition in the bidding for the bonds resulted in a better deal for the district, with the difference between the winning bid and last place bid for Measure O totaling over $230,000, and the difference for Measure N adding up to nearly $460,000. Although both winning bids’ reoffering yields were not the lowest for every maturity of the bond, they provided the lowest cost bid overall.
The bond sales were successful in that all metrics were improved upon from prior planning. According to Taylor, the projected total debt service for the bonds are below previous estimates. Between the two measures, there is a reduction of $20.8 million in projected debt service. This represents the debt service savings that were originally budgeted, but now are not expected to be collected, resulting in direct taxpayer savings.
Additionally, the total expected period of repayment for the bonds was shortened by one year thanks to the competitive bidding, and the district is now expected to net over $1 million more than expected in bond proceeds for facilities expenditures over the next five years.