Coolidge Unified School District CUSD logo

COOLIDGE — On March 10, the stock market experienced the start of what has since been a slippery slide as fears over the COVID-19 pandemic swirl on Wall Street.

Normally the day-to-day numbers of the market would not be a major point of concern for administrators at the Coolidge Unified School District. However, that particular Tuesday just so happened to be the day of the district’s bond sale.

“We were on the edge of our seats for most of the morning,” Alyssa Unger, director of businesses services told the Governing board on March 11 at the monthly school board meeting. “Because of the volatile stock market there weren’t many investors that wanted to invest in our bonds.”

By the mid morning, however, 75% of the district’s bonds had been sold thanks to an innovative approach taken by CUSD’s bond counseling firm Stifel.

“Yesterday at 9:15 (a.m.) we did not think we were going to have any bonds sold. (We thought) we would kind of have to ride this out and go back to the market after things calmed down” Unger said. “But by 10:15 they were all sold.”

According to Unger the other 25% of the bonds were purchased by Stifel, which means the district’s bonds have been completely funded. She noted that the district will likely receive the funds on April 11.

The timely sale may also prove to be a boon to local tax payers as interest rates were some of the lowest in the history of the market, Unger said.

With the funding available, the district is moving ahead to tackle projects initially outlined in the district’s bond proposition last year. Projects include purchasing and installing new curtains in the Coolidge Performing Arts Center, replacing the south tennis courts at Coolidge High School and installing a new track at the high school, among other needed updates.

At the March 11 meeting the governing board awarded a contract to Merry Carnell Schlecht, Inc. to provide architectural services for those projects.

The firm has previously worked with CUSD to successfully complete other renovations, such as the remodel the front office and staff lounge at West Elementary School and updates to the CHS Roundhouse.

Under the contract, Merry Carnell Schlecht will work with the district on the replacements of the track and tennis courts, redesigning Heartland Ranch Elementary School’s front entry and the drop-off lane at West school.

Unger later told PinalCentral that despite the school closures the district has not experienced any delays in the architectural engineering process in light of the coronavirus outbreak becauseno construction was anticipated to begin before the summer break.