Friday, May 21, 2010

TOP STORY > >Refinancing saves Cabot $2.4 million

Leader staff writer

The recent refinancing of a 2003 bond issue for $31 million was expected to save the Cabot School District $1.3 million in interest, but the school board learned Thursday evening that the actual savings will be $2.4 million.

The savings will be used for construction projects in the district. The sale was handled by Stephens Inc., which was also allowed to bid on the bonds. But the bonds were purchased by Crews & Associates at 3.944509 percent interest.

Stephens Inc. offered the next lowest rate at 3.998288 percent, followed by Morgan Stanley and Co. Inc., Morgan Keegan & Co. and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Carey Smith, from the public-finance department of Stephens Inc., told the board that no other bonds were for sale in the state when the Cabot bonds went out for bid and that he was pleased the large issue attracted national companies as well as those from Arkansas.

Crews and Associates chose First Security Bank, its parent company, as trustee and paying agent on the new bond issue. The trustee fees are paid according to a trustee fee schedule approved by the Arkansas Department of Education. The district’s $2.4 million savings include the trustee fees as well as the $77,500 financial-advisers fee paid to Stephens Inc. for handling the sale.

In other business, the board saw the live debut of the Cabot School Network, which may be seen on cable Channel 3.

The network will offer news, weather and sports and all the on-air and behind-the-scenes workers are students.

Students from the district’s broadcasting program competed in the April SkillsUSA Competition in Hot Springs and came home with gold medals.

SkillsUSA is partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to build a skilled workforce.
Randy Granderson, career and technical education coordinator for Cabot’s career academies, which include broadcasting, medical, criminal justice, construction trades, automotive and engineering, said Cabot performed well overall at this year’s
SkillsUSA Competition. The students work hard to prepare for the two-day competition, he said.

Jeff Parks, from the Career Education Department of the Arkansas Department of Education, told the board that judges for the competition work in the fields for which they are judges. For them, the competition is like an all-day job interview, Parks said.
Since the 2007-2008 school year, Cabot has been working toward certification with the National Center for Construction

Education. Parks attended the school board meeting to present those certificates to Cabot High School, Junior High North and Junior High South.

Because of the certification, students who have completed the courses in electrical, plumbing and carpentry will be recognized in all 50 states and 17 other countries to make them eligible for employment in their field, Parks said.