February 25, 2021

The Decorah School Board Tuesday evening approved the restructuring of existing debt through the sale of three bonds. The refinancing of the three bonds will save taxpayers almost $700,000 of interest payments over the next eight years. The savings will be realized in Decorah Community School District’s Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) and Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) funds which support facilities, infrastructure, technology, and transportation maintenance and improvements.

“The three bonds were originally sold to finance improvement projects like the construction of Decorah Middle School and remodeling at Decorah High School and Carrie Lee Elementary. The District had about $8.8 million of remaining debt with bonds scheduled to be paid off in June of 2024, 2025, and 2029,” said Superintendent Mark Lane.

Lane and Director of Business Services Cathy Dietzenbach began to investigate the possible advantages of refinancing the existing debt during annual budget work in October.

“Our board reviewed information about projected savings and set an aggressive timetable during the regular November meeting. We achieved the results we hoped for because our board acted quickly and because Cathy put hours and hours of work into providing our financial advisors the information needed to facilitate this process,” Lane stated.

As part of the process, Decorah Schools credit was re-evaluated by Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s. The District received an A+ rating from Standard and Poor’s and an Aa3 rating from Moody’s.

“The stable financial condition of the District and the strength of our local economy were noted by both rating agencies as a rationale for our excellent ratings,” Lane shared.

Decorah Bank and Trust partnered with Bankers Bank of Madison, Wisconsin, to submit the winning bid for two of the bonds. The third bond will be purchased by Robert W. Baird and Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“We are incredibly pleased that Decorah Bank and Trust participated in the bidding process. It reflects our community’s efforts to intentionally support local businesses and institutions,” said Lane.

Lane continued, “This project added a great deal of work to an already busy school year. Knowing we will now be able to dedicate this $686,000.00 to maintaining and improving our facilities and services rather than to interest payments makes the work worth it.”