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District 153 prepares for referendum bond sale

The District 153 school board took the first steps necessary to bring dollars from the 2016 referendum into district coffers.

In March 2016, residents voted overwhelmingly to support the board’s proposal to sell a maximum of $9 million in bonds to help the Homewood schools out of severe financial debt.

Reduced state aid and declining tax revenues due to a drop in property values has limited the Homewood school board’s budget. In 2011 voters approved a referendum to get more money into the pipeline. As that money has dwindled, the board in 2016 asked voters for approval for a second bond sale to help cover debt.

The plan is to split the $9 million bond sale in half. The first $4.5 million in bonds is expected to go on the market in December or January, said John Gibson, the district’s chief school business official. That will put dollars into the District 153 budget in 2017.

The state limits the amount of money that can be held in the Working Cash Fund. District 153 was required to move a 2008 bond issue out of the Working Cash Fund so it could go on the market with the 2016 referendum bonds.

This latest bond sale, to cover the 2008 debt of $4.4 million, will be completed by Sept. 30, Gibson said.

At a special Aug. 29 meeting the school board approved two resolutions that allow for the sale of new bonds that will pay off the debt in four years.

“Our overall debt stays about the same,” Gibson explained. “It is more like a refinance and reclassification.”

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