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Refinancing to save schools $8 million

SUWANEE - The Gwinnett Board of Education recently approved a resolution to refinance a portion of the 2004 series certificates of participation, which will save the school system more than $8.1 million, school system officials said.

Certificates of participation are "bonds or notes that are used as a financing tool for public entities," said Rick Cost, the Gwinnett County Public Schools' chief financial officer. The board's decision allowed the system to obtain new certificates, or bonds, at a lower interest rate, Cost said.

The certificates included in the transaction were the certificates with the highest interest rates, with the majority scheduled to mature after 2015, according to a news release from Gwinnett County Public Schools.

More than 90 percent of the savings will accrue to the district during the next 12 months, the news release said.

"This is $8 million more we can put toward the construction program to take advantage of today's construction prices," Cost told the board members. "This is an excellent example of how fiscally sound decisions are made in the long-term, best interest of the district."

Jamie Wilson, an executive vice president with Merchant Capital, also addressed the board.

"The school district's fiscal obligations were very well received by investors, reaffirming the high credit ratings of the school district," Wilson said.