OPSB member Dabo Graves.JPG

The Ouachita Parish School Board secured a historically low interest rate of 2.48 percent on the sale of $21 million in bonded indebtedness to begin facility construction projects in eastern Ouachita.

Grant Schlueter, the School Board’s bond counsel, informed the School Board of the good news at its regular meeting on Tuesday.

“We had a great bond sale,” said Schlueter, with the New Orleans law firm Foley & Judell. “We received an interest rate that you’ve received previously, and one of the lowest we’ve seen in decades.”

In August, eastern Ouachita Parish voters approved the School Board’s request to incur $42 million in bonded indebtedness to build a new Sterlington Middle School and other school facilities. In September, the School Board agreed to incur the debt in two issues, the first being the issuance of $21 million that was sold last week.

“These bonds will be delivered Nov. 5, so the money will be in the bank that morning and available for projects,” Schlueter said.

According to Schlueter, the parish school system has maintained its “AA-” bond credit rating.

“That is higher than most school boards in Louisiana,” Schlueter said.

Meanwhile, Monroe attorney Elmer Noah, who serves as the School Board’s legal counsel, informed the School Board that he was preparing a sale agreement to buy acreage from Monroe businessman Eddie Hakim off U.S. Hwy 165 and Keystone Road. School system officials hope to build the new Sterlington Middle School on the property, if purchased.

“We are imminent to getting that finished,” Noah said.

On another front, the School Board voted to seek bids to clear 219 trees on the property of Lakeshore Elementary School.

School Board member Dabo Graves said he wanted the bid to take down the trees because fallen trees on the property could pose a liability.

“We’ve got a little problem,” Graves said. “We had five trees fall and knock down four telephone poles. I got two trees in the playground, and the kids can’t even play in the playground.”

“They’re broke, just hanging there,” he added.

Superintendent Don Coker and School Board Scotty Waggoner noted it would be difficult to find someone to do the work.

“They are big trees, big trees,” Coker said. “We’ve heard that the saw mills may take them, but there are very few saw mills in our area, and they are too big.”

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