The taxpayers of Ravenna received a nice early Christmas present last week with the announcement that the Ravenna School District had managed to refinance $6.5 million of the debt incurred when the new high school was built.
Dennis Honkala, superintendent of the district, and Phillip Butto, its treasurer, said the savings would amount to approximately $662,000 for the district over half the life of the loan, which was incurred in 2006 when the voters approved a bond issue to build the new school with the assistance of the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission, which is paying for nearly half the cost of the new high school.
Observing that interest rates were going up, the two men traveled to Chicago to meet with Moody's Investment Service to ask for a better bond rating. They counted their decision to close Tappan Elementary School because of declining enrollment in the district as evidence of the conservative and responsible manner in which the district is operated.
After hearing their presentation, Moody's gave the District an A2 rating, considerably better than that of many districts, which have a B rating. This will enable Ravenna Schools to gain the savings once it sells another block of bonds to cover the district's debt.
The astuteness of the two school officials in closely watching the bond market is certainly commendable. As the economy recovers, the price of debt will become more costly. Realizing this, the superintendent and treasurer became proactive on behalf of the Ravenna Schools and those who pay the property taxes to support it.