Board OKs purchase of $30 million in bonds

The Ascension Parish School Board on Tuesday authorized the purchase of $30 million in bonds to continue ongoing construction projects.

The bonds are part of a $100 million bond issue approved by parish voters in 2009.

The board previously had authorized the purchase of $40 million, and Diane Allison, the school district’s business services director, said the purchase of the remaining $30 million in bonds likely will take place next fall.

Meredith Hathorn, a bond attorney with Foley & Judell LLP, said the lowest bid, which was made by Minnesota investment firm Piper Jaffray at just over 2.4 percent interest, was good news for the school district.

“To have a bid under 2.5 percent for $30 million is just excellent,” Hathorn said.

“That is a very, very good rate,” Allison said.

Allison said the school district had $44 million in capital projects in its 2012-13 budget, and the bond revenues will be used to help pay for some of those ongoing projects.

Among those projects are $12 million for additional classrooms and freshman academies at East Ascension and Donaldsonville high schools, a new library at Donaldsonville High, and a complete campus transformation at Galvez Middle, which includes a new administration building, classrooms and additional parking.

Those projects are in the design phase and are set to begin construction in 2013 or 2014.

Chad Lynch, the district’s director of planning and construction, said the funds also could be used to pay for ongoing and recently approved projects at Dutchtown Middle and Gonzales Primary, or for future planned projects at Prairieville Middle, Gonzales Middle, Lake Elementary and Donaldsonville Primary.

“I promise, I’ll spend that money as quick as I can,” Lynch joked.

Lynch did say he has learned through the district’s bond projects how to make sure the district gets the most bang for its bucks.

“There are a lot of ways to stretch a dollar,” Lynch said.