St. James completes school bond sale

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 11, 2012

By David Vitrano


LUTCHER – The St. James Parish school district will soon be able to begin the next phase of construction on several projects after accepting a bid for the sale of $13.5 million in General Obligation School Bonds.

The district received three bids on the bonds, with the lowest average interest rate coming from Morgan Keegan, a New Orleans-based financial firm that has purchased many of St. James Parish’s previous bonds, according to bond attorney Hugh Martin. The firm offered the district an interest rate of less than 2.82 percent.

Martin said the district qualified for bond insurance thanks to its A-1 rating.

“I had a sale last week with a school board with the same rating, and they got 2.89 percent,” Martin noted.

Martin said the school board should receive a check for the amount of the bonds on Sept. 12.

The $13.5 million in bond money was approved by voters in April 2011 and completes that particular bond issue. According to Superintendent Alonzo Luce, some of the projects the money will pay for are phase two of additions at Paulina and Gramercy elementary schools, the new St. James High stadium and the installation of artificial turf at the Lutcher High stadium, a project that was begun late last week and is expected to be complete by the start of football season.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Luce also commented a successful start of the school year.

“I think we really had a great start,” he said. “It’s probably the cleanest I’ve seen St. James High School.”

He said problems on opening day were few, but those that did arise mostly came from busing issues, but those problems were dealt with promptly.

“We were able to immediately solve problems when they arose,” said Luce, adding, “We are doing a lot of busing. I think the choices we are offering parents are spectacular.”

Enrollment in the parish’s public schools has remained stable this year, according to Luce.

“We’ve seen some people move out of parish, but we’ve also seen some kids come back to the public school system,” he said.

The financial future for the system is looking similarly bright.

“We had a spectacular month in sales tax this month,” said Luce. “We are blessed.”