Sidney BOE seeks higher bond rating

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — Sidney City Schools superintendent and treasurer will be traveling to Chicago to present the plan for refinancing bonds which will best benefit the district’s students and residents.

Superintendent John Scheu and Treasurer Mike Watkins will be meeting with representatives of Standard & Poor’s with a goal of receiving a higher bond rating for the school district.

Mike Burns, Robert W. Baird & Co. director, reviewed the refunding opportunity for the district.

“You are not extending the bond maturity,” said Bruns.

The original school improvement bonds were issued in May 1, 2001 and April 1, 2002. The optional call dates were Dec. 1, 2011 and Dec. 1, 20012. The advanced refunding improvement bonds are dated Oct. 31, 2007. The optional call date is Dec. 1, 2017.

According to Burns, the school district has a financial rating of Aa3 by Moody’s and a A+ by Standard & Poor’s.

“You deserve an upgrade to the bond rating,” said Bruns. “Your treasurer and superintendent have put in a lot of hours on this. We did a final walk through today (Monday) of the rating presentation. They will be presenting to Standard and Poor’s this Thursday.

“There’s a lot of stuff in the report that you can share with the public.”

Burns said he is hoping Standard & Poor’s will raise the district’s rating to AA-.

“Your financials are extremely strong,” said Burns.

The district, said Burns, has two options when it comes to refinancing the bonds.

“You can do the same thing you did in 2007 — refinance and sell the bonds with 100 percent of the savings going to the taxpayer.

“The No. 3 option is an upfront savings with the money going to the permanent improvement fund transfer,” said Burns.

The Shelby County Budget Commission, said Burns, would have to approve the refunding option. A meeting was held with the commission and “they verbally allowed us to go with the upfront savings if that’s the option the school board decides to go with,” said Burns. “Unofficially, they’ve said yes.”

If the board decides to go with the refunding option, then a total $1,500,000 would be transferred into the PI fund in 2017 ($237,599) and 2018 ($1,300,250). In 2019, $40,000 in savings would go back to the taxpayers.

Burns said a resolution should be adopted at the August meeting if the board opts to go with the PI transfer option.

Watkins said the budget commission was “on board” if the BOE decides to go with the refunding option.

“There’s no doubt in my mind of the budget commissions consensus if we submit a letter. They will approve it,” said Watkins. “This a process that we need to go down the road with. A resolution is a good idea even if a letter is submitted.

“We can’t commit to the transfer until the bond rating is given. Then we have to see what amount will be refinanced,” said Watkins.

In other business, the board approved a contract with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office for School Resource Officer services for the 2017-18 school year at a cost of up to $48,000. Scheu said Scott Atwood will the SRO at the high school.

The board also entered into an agreement with reserve officers as school security officers for the 2017-18 school year at a rate of $16.50 per hour and a $5 per hour premium paid to the program coordinator.

School security officers hired were Rick Cron, Britton Morris, Chris Anderson, Chuck Shepherd, Rod Austin and Doug Schlagetter.

Substitute security officers hired were David Spicer, Brad Boyd, Joel March, John Pence, Lew Warbington, Matt Luthman, James Richardson, Will Benson, Mike Henry, Charles Adams, Cami Frey, Chris VanMeter, Trea Honeycutt, Tyler Renner, Mark Henman, Brian Doak and Kevin Hammergren.

School security event officers hired were Rod Austin, Will Benson, Rick Cron, Mark Henman, Mike Henry, Doug Schlagetter, Chris Anderson, Chuck Shepherd, Lynn Marsee, John Pence, David Spicer and Brian Strunk.

The board’s next meeting will be Monday, Aug. 21, at 5:30 p.m. at the board of education building.

By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.