The St. Tammany Parish School Board passed a resolution on Thursday night authorizing the advertising for bids for the purchase of $35 million of general obligation school bonds.
The vote signaled the first step of a $175 million capital improvement campaign approved by St. Tammany voters earlier this month.
The bond sale will be held during a special school board meeting scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on June 18 at the C.J. Schoen Administrative Complex in Covington. The school system can receive electronic bids until that time.
School Board Bond Attorney Grant Schlueter said under the very likely presumption that bonds will be bought that day, the money would be available to the school system for use on July 25.
Schlueter said Stephanie Ferry with investment banking company Raymond James advised that the bond sale be scheduled as quickly as possible to take advantage of favorable stock market conditions. Ferry told the board she anticipated an interest rate of less than 2.6 percent for the 20-year bonds that would be issued.
"It's going to be very low," she assured.
"This is all subject upon what market conditions are (on June 18)," Schlueter said. "But things (in the stock market) have been very encouraging recently. Right before Easter, St. Martin (Parish) which has an A+ rated board, several notches below you in the bond rating, sold a 20-year issue. They had five bids (on their bonds) and four of them were under 3 percent (interest.)"
The board voted 14-0 to schedule the bond sale, with member Michael Nation absent. The board also unanimously adopted a resolution on Thursday to levy a 2-mill property tax that also was approved by voters on May 4.
Both ballot initiatives passed nearly 2 to 1 among parish residents voting on May 4. The property tax, which earned 64 percent of the vote, will pay to staff student resource officers and mental health professionals at each of the parish's 55 public schools.
The bond issue, which won 65 percent of votes cast, will generate $150 million for capital improvements at 16 of the district's schools, as well as fund technology and security updates systemwide.
In other business Thursday, the board accepted retirement from 52 certified employees with a collected 1,564.39 years in education. The board also gave retirement to another 30 non-certificated employees with a total of 644.16 in education.
Four recently graduated seniors received Capital One "Investing for Good" scholarships on Thursday. The $2,500 scholarships are awarded to students who have met college entry criteria, have demonstrated financial need, and will attend a state-funded college or university in Louisiana.
Recipients are Tarian Brumfield, Covington; Abigail Perkins, Northshore; Zachary Weber, Lakeshore; and Kassandra Canales, Slidell.