This is an excerpt of On Assignment, education writer Theresa Harrington's blog on Contra Costa County schools. Read more and post comments at IBABuzz.com/onassignment. Follow her at Twitter.com/tunedtotheresa.

April 11:

In response to a request from some community members that the district consider raising property tax rates to accelerate 2010 Measure C bond sales, the district has sent out the following (excerpted) message to the community:

" ... In June 2010, voters in our district approved Measure C, a $348 million bond measure, to renovate and upgrade schools throughout the district.

This successful election followed an earlier bond measure approved by voters in 2002. At the time of the 2010 election, voters supported maintaining a combined tax rate of $60 per $100,000 of assessed value between the 2002 and 2010 Measure C bond issuances.

Recently, a districtwide group of community members requested the board consider increasing the combined tax rate above the $60 per $100,000 of assessed value in order to avoid issuing more costly Capital Appreciation Bonds (CABS) and having to prolong the completion of construction projects.

Increasing the combined tax rate above $60 would also allow the district to take advantage of current historically low interest rates, more stable construction prices, and to accelerate the completion of projects so our current students would see benefits sooner.

Based on this request, the board held a study session on April 2 ... From the study session, board members agreed that taking advantage of historically low interest rates, stable construction costs, and selling bonds now allowing the district to get projects done significantly sooner makes financial sense.

However, they believe it is important to ensure that the broader community has more information and an opportunity to give input. To view the PowerPoint that was shared at that meeting, go to http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us. (Click on April 2, item 3.1.) ...

This is the question our school board is grappling with: Increase the annual tax rate above the combined rate of $60 and save more than $400 million in interest payments, or maintain the existing combined tax rate of $60 and pay more than $400 million in higher borrowing costs ...

The following table presents the different options that the district is considering ...

CURRENT PATH: Bonds with CIBs (Curren Interest Bonds) and CABS

Issue Dates: 2012, 2015, 2026

Bond Structure: CIBs and CABS

Financing Term: 25 years

Bond Issuance Amount: $49M, $23M, $155M

Total Interest: $681M

Total Debt Service: $908M

Tax Rate per $100K of assessed value (1): $60.00

OPTION 1: One bond sale, some CABS

Issue Date: 2012

Bond Structure: CIBs & CABS

Financing Term: 30 years

Bond Issuance Amount: $227M

Total Interest: $376M

Total Debt Service: $603M

Tax Rate per $100K of assessed value*: $89.53

OPTION 2: One bond sale, no CABS

Issue Date: 2012

Bond Structure: CIBs Only

Financing Term: 25 years

Bond Issuance Amount: $227M

Total Interest: $190M

Total Debt Service: $417M

Tax Rate per $100K of assessed value*: $110.29

OPTION 3**: Bonds sold next 3 years

Issue Dates: 2012, 2015

Bond Structure: CIBs Only

Financing Term: 25 years

Bond Issuance Amount: $150M, $77M

Total Interest: $158M

Total Debt Service: $385M

Tax Rate per $100K of assessed value*: $89.00, $95.00

Note: All the above analyses are based on market interest rates and subject to change due to variations in actual interest rates, bond terms, and types of bonds sold at the time of the sale as well as the District's construction schedule.

*Combined 2002 & 2010 election tax rate

**In order to keep a CIBs only structure and access all remaining bond funds in 2015, tax rate would need to be increased to $95.00 ..."

There are several public forums on the issue scheduled this week:

  • 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Riverview Middle School multiuse room, 205 Pacifica Ave. in Bay Point;

  • 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the College Park High multiuse room, 201 Viking Drive in Pleasant Hill;

  • 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Ygnacio Valley High library, 755 Oak Grove Road in Concord; and

  • 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Monte Gardens Elementary multiuse room, 3841 Larkspur Drive in Concord.