Avon Grove SD wins award for budget prep excellence

Back row from left: Daniel Carsley, Elizabeth Julian, Donna Bollinger, Lisa Dosenbach, Barbara Wallace, Amanda Trauger and Dennis Pagan. Front row from left: Amy Seamon, Cindy Bhan, Eric Willey, Marcia O’Hara and Christine Marsala.

WEST GROVE — For the second consecutive year, the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) has recognized Avon Grove School District (AGSD) with the 2020-2021 Meritorious Budget Award (MBA) for excellence in budget preparations.

During the 2018-2019 school year, AGSD participated in the Pathway to the MBA, an introductory program that allows school districts to ease into full MBA compliance. For 2019-2020 and now 2020-2021, AGSD was awarded the MBA for its financial integrity.

“Districts that apply to the MBA or Pathway to the MBA programs recognize the importance of presenting a high-quality, easy-to-understand budget internally and to the community,” ASBO International Executive Director David J. Lewis explains. “By participating in the programs, not only do districts have access to the tools and resources they need to communicate the district’s goals and objectives clearly, they demonstrate their commitment to upholding nationally recognized budget presentation standards.”

To earn this competitive award, districts submit their applications and budget documents to a panel of school financial professionals. The documents must meet many carefully selected criteria in order to earn the MBA. “As soon as the budget is approved in June, we start putting our presentation together. It takes about five to six months,” noted Eric Willey, assistant business manager for AGSD. “In addition to the numbers, the budget information must add context to provide a better understanding of our district, the decisions that are being made and their impact on our community.”

AGSD is in the midst of constructing a new high school at the intersection of Old Baltimore Pike and Sunnyside Road. The construction project is part of a multi-year facilities strategic initiative for the district.

In November of 2018, AGSD’s Board of School Directors authorized all debt for the project, breaking it into a progression of three smaller borrowings issued throughout the life of the project. The first of the borrowings was issued in December of 2018 and the second on January 26, 2021. A third and final issuance is tentatively scheduled to be executed in the first quarter of 2022.

When the Board originally authorized all debt for the project, the total cost of the borrowings was expected to be $200,328,365. With the current favorable market conditions, interest costs on these borrowings were much lower than what was originally projected. As a result, AGSD will save almost $15.5 million over the life of the bonds compared to the November 2018 estimate. The tax millage required to support the project has also declined correspondingly, dropping 15% from the original projection of 2.86 mills to 2.43 mills.

In addition, because interest rates are so low, AGSD also refinanced an older bond series. This resulted in further savings of $234,063 for the district.

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