Shawnee Mission set to issue $111.5 million in bonds, receives Aaa rating from Moody’s

The bond issue will in part help pay for the reconstruction of Briarwood Elementary in Prairie Village.
The bond issue will in part help pay for the reconstruction of Briarwood Elementary in Prairie Village.

By Dawn Bormann

The SM School Board authorized the district to issue $111.5 million in general obligation bonds Monday after receiving word it received a Aaa credit rating by Moody’s.

“Folks, it don’t get better than that. That’s the highest rating that is possibly achievable,” said Dick Bartow, executive vice president.
The rating was celebrated because it allows the district to take advantage of a lower interest rate of 3.59 percent on a major portion of the allocation. The district also used the opportunity to refinance $7.1 million in other bonds.

The bonds allow the district to begin construction on four elementary schools.
The district had planned this spring to sell about $70 million of construction bonds – part of the $223 million bond authorized earlier this year by voters. However they moved forward earlier to take advantage of lower interest rates.

The bond issuance is not expected to increase taxes for property owners.

Baum officials didn’t hesitate to note that the school district is in rare company with its top bond rating.

“Let me tell you what is even more impressive about that. The state of Kansas is rated Aa. You’re rated higher than the governing state in which you exist. That means you overcame the things going on in Topeka where they got a Aa,” Bartow said. “They looked at you and said you’re worthy of a Aaa.”

Only one other school district, Blue Valley, has the same rating in Kansas. No other area school districts in Missouri have the Aaa rating.

George K. Baum & Company CEO and President Jon Baum was among the finance team who delivered the credit rating news to the school board.

“This is a terrific outcome for the district and for the schools,” said Baum, who is a third generation owner of the business. Baum said he wanted to be there in part because he lives in the school district. “This is a very important transaction for us.”