Our K-12 School District Finance Group is one of the leading financial advisors and bond underwriters to school districts nationwide, with primary and secondary education finance as a core municipal practice. Operating with offices throughout the United States, we have one of the largest dedicated school district finance teams amongst all competing underwriting firms.

Areas of Expertise

Leveraging our strength as one of the strongest and most stable investment banks in the country, we assist our clients in consistently achieving their financing goals. We provide advantageous pricing results for our school district clients through the issuance of general obligation bonds, certificates of participation, bond anticipation notes and interim lease financings, and tax and revenue anticipation notes.

We deliver local market expertise and are uniquely positioned to serve the diverse needs of both large and small school districts. We are firmly committed to the K–12 education sector and consistently rank as a top issuer both regionally and nationwide. As an underwriter, we offer a broad range of bond issue structuring products and services, including:

  • Bond document review
  • Debt structure and capacity analysis
  • Tax impact modeling
  • Marketing and broad distribution to investors
  • New project bond financing and refinancing
  • Credit rating assessment and enhancement strategy
  • Certificates of participation and lease purchase transactions

Since 2010, we have led over 1,600 K-12 transactions aggregating $29 billion in par value. As one of the largest K-12 education groups in the industry, operating from 14 offices, we offer a depth of coverage to every type of school district across the country. Our senior managed bond transactions have ranged from $400 million general obligation bonds to $1 million lease transactions, further demonstrating our diverse and regionalized approach.

Recent Transactions

Case Studies

$375 million

Poudre School District

On September 12, RBC Capital Markets (“RBC CM,” or the “Firm”) served as Sole Manager on a $375,000,000 fixed rate offering for Poudre School District (“Issuer”). The bonds were authorized by the electorate at a November 2016 election but were the subject of litigation for nearly two years and finally resolved at the State Supreme Court on August 20. The proceeds of this issue will fund new schools and renovations throughout the District.

The District is a political subdivision of the State of Colorado (the “State”) and a body corporate which was organized for the purpose of operating and maintaining an educational program for the school-age children residing within its boundaries. The District encompasses an area of approximately 1,856 square miles and is comprised of all or portions of 22 former school districts. The District is located approximately 60 miles north of the City of Denver, Colorado, in the northern half of Larimer County (the “County”) and includes the City of Fort Collins (the “City”), the Towns of Timnath, Wellington, and a portion of the Town of Windsor, and the communities of Bellvue, LaPorte, Livermore, Poudre Canyon and Red Feather Lakes.

After receiving bond authorization from its voters in November 2016, Poudre School District’s funding was delayed for nearly two years by litigation between the District and a local community activist. After several district court decisions (all in the District’s favor), the community activist appealed to the State Supreme Court and was subsequently denied a hearing on August 20, 2018. Over the course of the two years, RBC and the District had three separate rounds of rating calls, and continuously updated offering documents in the anticipation of an end to the litigation. The continuous preparation allowed the District to complete the entire transaction from notification from the State Supreme Court to closing of the transaction in less than one month. RBC has served as Sole manager for Poudre School District for over twenty years.

The lack of Colorado supply coupled with the district’s high underlying credit quality attracted a large number of investors across the buyer base. RBC received nearly $1.9 billion in orders from 55 unique accounts. Rising construction costs and interest rates over the two years of litigation meant the District needed to secure significant premium to still meet all their funding goals in the 2016 ballot question. RBC was oversubscribed for from 3-8 times in nearly every maturity, allowing for significant reductions in yield at the end of pricing. This reduction further increased total premium to the District to nearly $50 million, as the total project fund net of all costs at the end of pricing was $422.4 million.

$73.91 million

Downingtown Area SD
General Obligation Refunding Bonds, Series A, B, & C of 2018

On November 14, 2018, RBC Capital Markets, LLC served as Sole Manager on $73,910,000 Downingtown Area School District (“DASD”), General Obligation Bonds, Series A, B, and C of 2018 (the “Bonds”). Proceeds of the Bonds, along with a DASD cash contribution, will be applied to the current refunding of DASD’s outstanding 2010 Floating Rate Note, current refunding of DASD’s 2006A and 2006C Emmaus bond pool loans, the costs of planning, designing, acquiring, constructing, furnishing and equipping additions and improvements to an elementary school, and to pay the costs of issuing the Bonds.

In addition to the issuance of the Bonds, DASD terminated its two outstanding fixed payer swap agreements on November 14, 2018.

$79 million

Northeastern LSD
UTGO School Improvement Bonds, Series 2018

On September 12, RBC Capital Markets served as Sole Manager on a $375,000,000 fixed rate offering for Poudre School District. The bonds were authorized by the electorate at a November 2016 election but were the subject of litigation for nearly two years and finally resolved at the State Supreme Court on August 20. The proceeds of this issue will fund new schools and renovations throughout the District.

RBCCM worked with the district for over 10 years as the District had 4 failed bond levies to finance the local share of an OFCC master facilities project. Through this period RBCCM provided ongoing bond issue guidance as part of the financing team without receiving any financial compensation. After successfully passing a $79.335 million bond issue on May 8, 2018 RBCCM in conjunction with the District's municipal advisor (Umbaugh) began work on developing a preferred plan of finance. After analyzing the possibility of breaking the issue up into various smaller issues to obtain state credit enhancement on a portion of the total issuance it was determined the benefit did not justify the interest rate risk of delaying a large portion of the debt issuance. The better option for credit enhancement was determined to be bond insurance. After receiving an extremely low cost insurance policy from Assured Guaranty the District chose to use bond insurance which resulted in substantial interest rate savings. On August 2, 2018 RBCCM priced the District's $79.335 million bond issue. During the marketing period we developed a strong book of orders with various coupons including discount bonds, 4% coupon bonds and 5.25% coupon bonds. At the conclusion of the order period most bond maturities were oversubscribed (order exceeded available bonds) by ratios of 2x to 6x. The yield on these oversubscribed maturities were reduced by 2 to 5 basis points through a repricing to allow the District to future lower the borrowing cost. Ultimately the District achieved an all in borrowing cost of 3.95%, near all time lows for a 37 year bond issue.

RBCCM has developed a long-term banking relationship Northeastern LSD over the 10 years that the District attempted to pass a bond issue. Through this relationship we were able to assist the District in the planning stages of various unsuccessful bond issue. This provided a greater depth of understanding of the District's needs than if an underwriter had simply been selected as underwriter on a single transaction.

$173.03 million

Socorro ISD
Unlimited Tax School Building Bonds, Series 2018

On January 4, 2018, RBCCM served as senior manager on the $173,030,000 Unlimited Tax School Building Bonds, Series 2018. In the days leading up to the bond pricing, the financing team encountered numerous challenges in the market, including:

  • Snowstorms on the east coast left the market quiet.
  • High grade municipal benchmark yields rose 1 to 2 basis points across the curve in sympathy with taxable market weakness.
  • Being the first significant deal of 2018 and with a dramatic lowering of the corporate tax rate, much more price discovery was needed on this deal than in previous years.

While RBCCM worked aggressively to put a deal together, far fewer buyers showed up as accounts were still researching the overall effects of the new tax laws. RBCCM committed more than $10 million to allow the District to complete its financing without repricing. RBCCM Served as Senior Managing Underwriter, providing market advice and distribution expertise throughout the financing process.

Our Team

Frank Vega

Managing Director & Sector Head, California

+1.213.362.4113

Frank Vega is a Managing Director at RBC Capital Markets and serves as group head for the firm’s California K-14 Education Group. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Frank has spent his entire public finance career working exclusively with California schools and colleges. Since joining RBC Capital Markets, Frank has helped lead and senior manage more than 100 transactions for California school and community college districts. Frank specializes in structuring General Obligation (G.O.) Bonds, Certificates of Participation and Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes. Recent examples of Frank’s California community college and lead manager experience in 2017 include: $125 million Desert CCD G.O. Refunding Bonds (Crossover Refunding), $122 million Glendale CCD G.O. Bonds, Series A (Measure GC), and $150 million Antelope Valley CCD G.O. Bonds, Series A and Series A-1 (Measure AV).

Prior to joining RBC Capital Markets, Frank served as a legislative aide and committee consultant in the California State Legislature, and as Executive Director of the California Educational Facilities Authority under State Treasurer Phil Angelides.  

Frank received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California, Davis, and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Southern California.  Frank is a proud product of the California Community College system, having attended Glendale Community College.

Frank currently holds FINRA Series 7, 53 and 63 securities licenses.

Bio

Christine Pihl

Managing Director, Washington

+1.206.621.3221

Christine Pihl has almost 30 years of experience in public finance specializing in public power and utility sector clients. Christine joined RBCCM in 2013.

Ms. Pihl specializes in public power and utility sector clients including having served as lead banker for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for both the Power System and Water System, serving as lead banker for SCPPA for Windy Point, the largest electric power prepay transaction and one of the largest wind farms in the nation, the Intermountain Power Agency for its 2013 financing, California Independent Service Operator for a $192 million refunding in 2013, the Salt River Project, Anaheim Public Utilities, King County Sewer for over $1 billion of transactions, Tacoma Power and the Eugene Water & Electric Board, Grant County PUD, Snohomish PUD, Benton County PUD, Grays Harbor PUD, Franklin PUD and Douglas PUD among others.

In addition to her utility clients, she also has led transitions in the Pacific Northwest for issuers including the Port of Seattle, the State of Washington and the City of Tacoma.

Ms. Pihl relocated to Seattle in 1995. Her prior affiliations include the financial advisory firm, Capital Advisors, Seattle-Northwest Securities and JPMorgan. She began her career in public finance as an analyst for Lehman Brothers in New York.

Ms. Pihl holds the following licenses: Series 7, 24, 52, 53, 63 and 79. Ms. Pihl has a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a M.B.A. from the University of Washington.

Bio

Dan O’Connell

Managing Director, Colorado

+1.303.595.1222

Dan O'Connell joined RBC Capital Markets in 2005 and leads RBC’s Colorado K-12 finance team from the Denver office. Dan has nearly 14 years of public finance experience with his main area of expertise being K-12 finance. He uses his expertise and knowledge in school finance and election law to provide creative solutions for capital funding, while minimizing tax-payer impact. Dan acted as lead banker for all of the State of Colorado’s Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program Certificates of Participation. Through 5 years of issuance, the program has invested over $830 million in state and local funds in capital improvements in school districts throughout Colorado. Some of Dan’s clients include:

  • Denver Public Schools
  • Adams 14 School District
  • State of Colorado
  • Academy School District
  • Douglas County School District
  • Poudre School District
  • Brighton School District
  • Aspen School district

Dan joined RBC Capital Markets in 2005 after five years of municipal finance experience at a competing firm. He graduated with honors from the University of Colorado with a degree in Economics. Dan is a former president of the Colorado Municipal Bond Dealers Association and holds Series 7 and Series 63 licenses.

Bio

Julie Santamaria

Director, Florida

+1.727.895.8871

Julie Santamaria has been with RBC Capital Markets for 20 years and has been involved in financings for cities, counties, and other governmental entities throughout Florida totaling over $26 billion. Ms. Santamaria’s recent experience with Florida governments includes Polk County, Hernando County, Sarasota County, Lee County, Venice, Davie, City of Sarasota, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Naples, and Titusville.

In addition to general government expertise, Julie Santamaria has extensive utility experience, having worked with clients on utility capital improvement plans, rate study design, special assessment methodology, water and sewer revenue bonds, utility assessment revenue bonds, SRF loans, and bank loans. Since 2003, Ms. Santamaria has completed 74 utility financings totaling over $3.8 billion.

Julie Santamaria earned a B.S. from the University of Florida and an M.B.A. from Stetson University. Her education includes study at Harvard University and Oxford University (England). Ms. Santamaria is a NASD Registered General Securities Representative, a Municipal Securities Principal, and a member of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s Professional Qualifications Committee, which develops the tests for the licensing of municipal professionals.

Bio

Kathryn Pong

Vice President, Phoenix

+1.602.381.5359

Ms. Kathryn Pong has worked in public finance for 12 years.  Ms. Pong joined RBCCM Arizona Municipal Group in 2010.  Prior to joining the Firm, Ms. Pong worked at a regional investment banking firm for three years.  As a Vice President, Ms. Pong is responsible for providing investment banking and advisory coverage as well as deal execution related to the issuance of tax-exempt and taxable bonds for school districts, state agencies, cities, towns and higher education issuers.  Ms. Pong has been involved in over $14.5 billion in financings in which RBCCM has served as financial advisor or underwriter.  Ms. Pong has served as financial advisor or investment banker to a wide range of public sector borrowers including school districts, cities, counties, community colleges, state agencies and universities.  Representative issuers include Scottsdale, Deer Valley and Paradise Valley Unified School Districts, Madison, Pendergast, Creighton Elementary and Tempe Elementary School Districts, Cities of Glendale, Tempe and Casa Grande, Pima County, Coconino County, Maricopa Community Colleges, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, The University of Arizona, the Arizona Department of Administration, Arizona Transportation Board, to name a few.

Ms. Pong is currently registered with FINRA with Series 7, 50, 63 and 79 securities licenses.  Ms. Pong currently serves as the Marketing Director for the Women in Public Finance – Mountain Region Chapter

Bio

Kent Cashell

Managing Director, Ohio

+1.513.826.0551

Mr. Cashell is a Managing Director in the Cincinnati, Ohio Municipal Finance office of RBC Capital Markets and manages Public Finance for Ohio.

Mr. Cashell joined RBC Capital Markets in 2002 after serving as Chief Operating Officer/Chief Information Officer for Cincinnati Public Schools. As COO/CIO, Mr. Cashell oversaw all non-instructional areas for the district. Prior to coming to Cincinnati, Mr. Cashell served for nine years in finance, policy and administrative positions in Delaware state government. His last position there was Associate Secretary of Education for Finance, Policy and Administrative Services. In the latter role, Mr. Cashell acted as the Chief Financial Officer for the State Department of Education.

Mr. Cashell specializes in education and local government transactions including tax increment financing (TIF). Mr. Cashell also administers several large structured pooled financing programs in the State of Ohio.

Mr. Cashell currently holds Series 7, Series 63, Series 53, Series 24 and Series 50 licenses. Mr. Cashell holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Economics from the University of Delaware, specializing in mathematical economics and econometrics.

Bio

Ken Phillips

Managing Director, Pennsylvania

+1.717.519.6001

Mr. Phillips has worked in public finance for 33 years, specializing in municipal public finance. Mr. Phillips specializes in Pennsylvania School District financing and has completed as a senior manager over 2,000 school district issues during his career. No other firm or individual has been more directly involved in structuring and completing school district and municipal bond issues for Pennsylvania entities in the past 33 years than Mr. Phillips. Because of his experience, he has been a frequent lecturer for many municipal workshops throughout the Commonwealth for the past 25 years and has consulted with the Pennsylvania Department of Education on numerous school district financial issues. Prior to joining RBC Capital Markets in 2001, Mr. Phillips was employed by Tucker Anthony and Hopper Soliday.

Mr. Phillips graduated from Davis & Elkins College with a B.S. in Economics and Business.

Bio

Lou Verdelli

Managing Director, Pennsylvania

+1.717.519.6080

Mr. Verdelli is a Managing Director in the Municipal Finance department of RBC Capital Markets. He joined RBC Capital Markets in July 2006.

During the past twenty-two years he has structured and completed hundreds of different types of financings for Pennsylvania school districts, local governments, and authorities. He has extensive experience developing new money, refunding and restructuring municipal bond transactions. These transactions have varied from traditional fixed rate bonds to variable rate bonds and bank note and bond pool borrowings.

Mr. Verdelli has thorough experience with interest rate swap transactions having completed more than 30 swap transactions that include fixed rate swaps, variable rate swaps, swaptions for refunding purposes and several variations of basis swaps. Mr. Verdelli also has worked with financially distressed entities developing financial recovery plans and implementing debt restructurings.

Prior to joining RBC Capital Markets, Mr. Verdelli was a Managing Director at Public Financial Management in the Pennsylvania Local Government Group. Mr. Verdelli began his career in public finance in July 1992 as an analyst with Public Financial Management.

Mr. Verdelli is a registered securities representative, currently holding Series 7 and Series 63 licenses.

Mr. Verdelli holds a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and economics from Albright College.

Bio

Matt Boles

Managing Director, Texas

+1.214.989.1672

Mr. Boles is a Managing Director in the Dallas Municipal Finance office of RBCCM. He is a Regional Manager, overseeing the operations of our Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Denver Municipal Finance offices. He is also a member of the Firm’s Operating Committee.

Mr. Boles has been with RBCCM since 1991 and has been involved in financings during that period for a variety of issuers. In those 27 years, Mr. Boles has served as an investment banker or financial advisor to virtually every type of tax-exempt issuer, including school districts, counties, cities, public and private universities, community colleges, state agencies, healthcare providers and special districts. Mr. Boles’ experience has included all aspects of refunding and new money transactions in both long and short term modes, including virtually all types of security structures, as well as certain derivative instruments. As a manager, he is responsible for the formation and implementation of strategic initiatives for the firm’s Municipal Finance Group in Texas and Colorado.

Mr. Boles is a Certified Public Accountant and a registered securities representative, currently holding Series 7, 24, 50, 53, and 63 licenses. He previously served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Municipal Advisory Council of Texas (2011-2015) and as Chairman of the Board (2013-14). Mr. Boles holds a BBA from the University of Texas at Austin and a MBA from Southern Methodist University.

Bio

Robert D. Traylor

Managing Director, Texas

+1.210.805.1117

Mr. Traylor joined the Firm’s Public Finance group in January 2001. He has extensive experience in providing financial advisory and underwriting services to Texas cities, counties, school districts, hospitals, airports, navigation districts, river authorities, water districts, and a variety of other special districts across the state of Texas. Mr. Traylor’s experience includes all aspects of municipal finance including various types of Unlimited Tax Bonds, Revenue Bonds, General Obligation Bonds, Variable Rate Bonds, Convertible Bonds, Lease/Purchases, Synthetic Financial Products, Advance Refundings, Current Refundings, Debt Restructurings, and Contractual Obligations.

He is a frequent speaker on the subject of Public Finance and Capital Improvements Program structuring and funding, and previously served as a board member for the Municipal Advisory Council of Texas. He is also a regular participating lecturer for the Texas State University’s Certified Public Managers Program.

Mr. Traylor holds a BBA in Accounting from Texas A&M University and an MBA from Baylor University. He is a NASD Registered General Securities Representative currently holding the Series 7, Series 50, Series 53, Series 63, and Series 79 licenses.

Bio

Tye Burgess

Director, Phoenix

+1.602.381.5360

Mr. Burgess is a Director in the Phoenix office of RBCCM. Mr. Burgess has over 24 years of experience structuring Arizona, Utah and intermountain region issuer credits including sales tax and excise tax revenue bonds, general obligation bonds, certificates of participation, lease revenue bonds, lease obligations, bank direct purchase transactions, assessment and tax-increment credits, and grant anticipation notes. Mr. Burgess joined RBCCM in 2018 after 23 years at Wells Fargo Securities, and predecessor firms, where he managed their Phoenix office and general governmental underwriting efforts throughout the State of Arizona for a ten year period. As a lead banker or co-lead banker, he has recently senior managed transactions for the City of Phoenix, City of Glendale, City of Scottsdale, City of Chandler, Arizona Transportation Board, Regional Transportation Authority of Pima County, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, State of Utah, Granite School District, and the Las Vegas Valley Water Authority. Prior to becoming an investment banker, Mr. Burgess worked for Bank of America as a Corporate Trust Administrator in the firm’s Seattle office.

Mr. Burgess graduated with a B.S. in Economics from Brigham Young University and an M.B.A from the Marriott School of Management – BYU.  Mr. Burgess is currently registered with FINRA with Series 7, 50, 52, 53, and 63 securities licenses.

Bio