Back to school: Santa Maria Joint Union High School District classes in full swing

A construction worker is shown building walls for new classrooms at Righetti High School in Santa Maria in 2017, a project financed by Measure C2004 bonds. The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District on Wednesday finalized the sale of its remaining bond balance of $67 million.

The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District has refinanced a significant portion of its general obligations bond with a historically low interest rate, anticipated to result in property tax savings of $6.3 million for local taxpayers.

District leaders finalized the sale in December of the remaining $67 million authorized for the 2013 Measure C2004 bond, and also refunded outstanding bonds from the early 2000s.

Khushroo Gharaya of CFW Financial Services, which managed the sale, said national investors were impressed with the district's financial management and increased their credit rating as a result. This, along with lower-than-expected interest rates due to the omicron variant, allowed the district to secure a 2.6% interest rate rather than the anticipated rate of 4.3%.

"I've been in this business for almost 30 years, and that's one of the lowest rates I’ve seen for a school bond sale in the state of California," Gharaya said. 

The $66.8 million deposited into the district's account will be used for the continued construction of a new classroom building at Santa Maria High School.  

Measure C2004 bonds have also been used to construct a new 38-classroom building at Righetti High School to replace its portable classrooms.

District officials expressed gratitude to community members for supporting needed projects at local high schools. 

“We greatly value the support our schools receive from our community, and we are happy that this refinancing will save our local taxpayers more than $6 million,” said Yolanda Ortiz, assistant superintendent of business services.

District board President Jack Garvin said the tax savings come at a good time, as many families struggle to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The board’s action reflects our continued commitment to look out for our taxpayers. We are pleased that this action will benefit our residents, especially during this challenging time for many of our families,” Garvin said. 

Other business from the board's Wednesday meeting included approval of a contract with consulting firm Zeste Branding and Marketing to develop a new district logo and branding. During the board's next meeting on Jan. 18, members will hold their last redistricting hearing and select a final map from seven options.

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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