Cassville School District gets funding from QZAB program

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

District to receive $945,000 in interest-free bonds

With the passing of the Cassville R-4 School District's bond issue in the April elections, the district has now been awarded $948,295 from the Qualified Zone Academy Bonds program.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education sponsors the program, which aims to give interest-free bonds to districts that have passed bond issues and aim to do renovations, repairs and improvements to existing facilities.

Richard Asbill, superintendent of Cassville Schools, said although the district received only 45 percent of its original $2.1 million request, he's extremely happy with the outcome.

"It's really good, and I can't complain," he said. "Now, we know close to $1 million of our bonds will be interest-free."

The district passed a $4 million bond issue on April 8 by a 64-36 percent margin, and hopes to begin on projects improving the schools as soon as this summer.

"We will still stay on our proposed schedule, and we've started the process of preparing the bond issue package, with our Standard & Poor's rating of AA-plus," he said. "We hope by the second week of May, we'll look at the preliminary piece of bonds and the initial interest rates, which are still favorable in the market and makes things look good for selling the bonds and repaying them on time."

Asbill said the next step is to complete paperwork at the May school board meeting, approving the bond resolution, accepting purchase proposals, signing legal documents for bond usage and finalizing close-out procedures.

"We hope to complete the paperwork with the underwriter [L.J. Hart and Company, of St. Louis], and start accessing bond funds by June," he said.

Asbill said bonds will initially be sold locally, to banks and individuals, which will give the district an amount that will be left to sell outside the local area.

"We always try to give local investors the opportunity to buy bonds first," he said. "It's a fairly good investment because it's tax-free."

The Cassville R-4 School District was one of nine districts in the state that applied for the QZAB bonds and passed a bond issue. All together, the nine districts requested $16.25 million in funding, and only $7.338 million was available. Asbill said because of this, DESE decided to fund all nine QZAB bond requests at 45 percent.

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