Many things have been happening since the passage of Measure K, the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District facility improvement bond measure approved by voters last November. Again, I can’t thank you all enough for your faith in our efforts to modernize such a significant community asset.

The multi-year improvement journey we are about to begin will benefit not only our high school students, but the entire Valley. We have been working diligently to make the best use of the public’s money before construction begins. I’d like to introduce two of them with you:

An improved credit rating: In February, the SYVUHSD business manager and I made a trip to San Francisco to make a case with Standard and Poor’s, a top international credit rating company, for an improved credit rating for our district. Already in good credit standing, we were successful, going from a AA rating to a AA-plus rating, placing us in the top 7 percent of the nearly 1,000 school districts in California.

This is a great place to be and a great form of validation that our district is engaging in prudent fiscal management. The S&P post-presentation report cites our, “consistently very strong financial performance during the past five years …”

The improved rating will result in a further reduction in borrowing costs above and beyond the cost savings resulting from our decision to limit the bond terms to 15-year terms on our two issuances, instead of the typical 30-40 years. The overall result is that Valley taxpayers save approximately 72 percent in taxes and interest, or $14.5 million over the long term.

Bond sales: I just received our official notice of sale for the first issuance of our bonds, and would like to encourage interested members of the public to talk with their financial advisor regarding how to purchase a portion of this $7.5 million bond issuance the week of March 13 when the final official statement will be available.

On an unrelated Measure K matter, one of the requirements, and desired outcomes, of our process is that of transparency and accountability. We are in the process of forming a citizen’s oversight committee with a minimum of seven members, each with a specific set of criteria, to inform the public that we will spend the public’s money as stated. Might you be interested in participating? The application and details pertaining to this process are available on the SYHS website at syvpirates.org. We are hoping many will apply so we can engage in the best process possible.

The hiring of an architect and a construction manager is currently underway. I would like to encourage local businesses in the building trades to be on the lookout for opportunities to bid on a wide variety of construction projects that will take place over the course of the next three to five years.

A final topic I would like to bring to your attention is the campaign that is currently underway to raise private funds for our new SYHS and community pool. I would like to clarify that no Measure K funds will be expended on the pool project. The Santa Ynez Valley Community Aquatics Foundation is engaged in a significant fund-raising campaign. Interested in learning more or contributing? Visit www.syvaquatics.org.

Scott Cory is superintendent for the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District.

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