Rancho Santa Fe School District board considers bond refund


The Rancho Santa Fe School District is considering refunding general obligation bonds, representing a savings for taxpayers.

At an April 29 special board meeting, the board heard a presentation from Jason List, a principal at Isom Advisors and Jeff Baratta, managing director for Piper Jaffray, a public finance investment banking firm.

On the agenda for the board’s next meeting on May 7 is approval of the bond issuance financing team: underwriting services with Piper Jaffray, a consulting services agreement with Isom Advisors and a bond counsel agreement with Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth.

As Baratta explained, in March 1991, district taxpayers approved a $2.7 million general obligation (GO) bond with 84 percent of the vote. In March 2004, district taxpayers approved a $4.8 million GO bond with 63 percent of the vote and in February 2008, a $34 million GO bond with 71 percent of the vote.

Several series of the bonds are now eligible for refunding, with a present value percentage of 5 percent, higher than the industry standard of 3 percent.

Taking advantage of the near historically low interest rates, the district’s projected savings to taxpayers would be $2,143,651. On average, taxpayers in the district will save $2.19 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

“What taxpayers will save is the most important number to focus on,” said Baratta, noting the average assessed value in the district is $1.8 million, which represents a savings of about $36 a year.

As President Todd Frank noted, as the district looks at the possibility in the future for a GO bond to finance the gym renovation, it makes sense to keep costs down for taxpayers.

List agreed that the bond refunding is a “goodwill gesture” as they look ahead to a possible new bond on the ballot.

Baratta said in 2008, Piper Jaffray sold 100 percent of the district’s GO bonds to local residents of Rancho Santa Fe. In anticipation of approval, Baratta said they would again look to RSF School District retail buyers to re-create the success of 2008.

“There aren’t many school districts that carry a AAA bond rating,” said Baratta of the highest possible rating for bond issuers. “When you have a AAA-rated school district in a high-wealth environment, your community members want to buy your bonds.”

At its May 7 meeting, the board will also discuss the method of sale, be it a private placement of public offering. If the resolution to refund the bonds is approved, the district could be looking at a six-week time frame until the issuance date.