Thursday, February 11, 2016

Construction bonds approved

Twenty-nine Illinois school districts have been authorized to issue bonds that will benefit from an interest subsidy through the federal Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) program.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) approved this essentially interest-free bonding authority at its Feb. 10 meeting for the top qualifying school districts under program rules. A total of $495.6 million in bonding authority from the federal government will be available, or an average of $17 million per district.

“This authorization means selected districts can take advantage of low- to zero-interest bonds to pay for building and construction needs rather than diverting limited financial resources away from the classroom” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith. “No state dollars are being spent and local taxpayers will not have to help foot the bill for high interest costs.”

A total of 193 applications were received from Illinois school districts, totaling $2.4 billion. Twenty-eight of the 29 districts are recommended for the full amount of their authorization request. The 29th district is recommended for the amount of authorization that remained available, which covered more than half (52.4 percent) of the district’s requested amount.

The other 164 school districts applied by the Jan. 15 deadline but were not recommended for approval. ISBE had announced in December that first priority was to go to school districts having “shovel-ready” projects in the works, and to those districts having the ability to borrow money. Because the requests far exceeded availability, school districts that applied were also ranked based on additional factors, including their count of low-income students, available local resources, existing tax rate, and the amount of inadequately housed students learning in mobile classrooms, as well as their reliance on very old buildings or buildings that are over capacity.

Districts are limited to a maximum request of $50 million each. The largest project granted was $50 million requested by Aurora East SD 131. The smallest amount was $670,000 requested by Burnham SD 154 ½. If any authorized district does not issue the QSCB bonds within 18 months, the authority will revert back to ISBE. Under program rules, also, bond proceeds must be spent within three years of the issue date.

The QSCB program was created under Section 1521(a) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program is a source of limited financial bonding for school districts to fund the rehabilitation or repair of an existing public school facility, construction of a new public school facility, equipment associated with repair or construction, or for land acquisition related to the construction of a new facility. Bond proceeds can be used for building rehabilitation and repair, allowing districts to issue low- to no-interest bonds in lieu of higher-interest Fire Prevention (health, life, and safety) bonds.

Below is the list of the 29 districts approved for an award of authorization by the Illinois State Board of Education.


County
District Name
QSCB Authorization Requested
QSCB Authorization Recommended
Cook
Chicago Heights SD 170
$45,000,000
   $45,000,000
Lake
Waukegan CUSD 60
7,000,000
        7,000,000
Cook
Lincoln ESD 156
4,350,000
        4,350,000
Cook
Community Consolidated SD 168
9,000,000
        9,000,000
Lake
Round Lake Area Schools 116
900,000
           900,000
Kane
Aurora East SD 131
50,000,000
      50,000,000
Cook
Park Forest SD 163
13,000,000
      13,000,000
Cook
Sandridge SD 172
1,300,000
         1,300,000
Cook
Burnham SD 154-5
670,000
            670,000
Cook
Lansing Elem SD 158
18,000,000
       18,000,000
Cook
Cicero SD 99
28,445,000
       28,445,000
Cook
Hoover-Schrum Memorial SD 157
3,000,000
         3,000,000
Marion
Sandoval CUSD 501
2,000,000
          2,000,000
Cook
Posen-Robbins SD 143.5
11,700,000
11,700,000
Winnebago
Rockford PSD 205
29,086,530
29,086,530
Vermilion
Danville CCSD 118
3,365,500
3,365,500
Cook
Country Club Hills ESD 160
6,000,000
6,000,000
Kankakee
Kankakee SD 111
29,820,000
29,820,000
Champaign
Rantoul Twp. HSD 193
1,015,874
1,015,874
Cook
JS Morton HSD 201
50,000,000
50,000,000
Cook
Argo CHSD 217
17,800,000
17,800,000
Cook
Bremen Twp. HSD 228
50,000,000
50,000,000
Cook
W Harvey-Dixmoor PSD 147
10,000,000
10,000,000
DuPage
Marquardt SD 15
26,700,000
26,700,000
Champaign
Rantoul City Schools 137
10,000,000
10,000,000
Cook
Bloom Twp. HSD 206
30,000,000
30,000,000
LaSalle
LaSalle ESD 122
5,478,000
5,478,000
LaSalle
Streator ESD 44
5,500,000
5,500,000
Kane
Aurora West Unit School District 129
50,000,000
26,471,096
Total
$519,130,904
$495,602,000