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 in 10 states, 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

$189.5 million

Pasadena Unified School District
General Obligation Bonds, Series 2016A

On May 10, 2016 RBC Capital Markets served as sole managing underwriter and successfully priced a $189.5 million general obligation bond issue for the Pasadena Unified School District (“District”)

The transaction included the third and final new money issuance under Measure TT, a bond measure approved by District voters in 2008 for $350 million, as well as a refunding of the District’s Series 2009A-1 and Series 2009A-2 (Federally Taxable Build America Bonds). The transaction consisted of current interest bonds with a final maturity in 2036 and achieved an All-in-TIC of 2.844%.

The proceeds from the sale of the new money bonds will be used to finance the repair, upgrading, acquisition, construction and equipping of certain District property and facilities, and to pay certain costs of issuance of the Bonds. The proceeds from the sale of the Refunding Bonds will be used by the District to advance refund, on a crossover basis, the District’s outstanding 2009 General Obligation Bonds (Election of 2008) Series 2009A-2 (Federally Taxable Build America Bonds). The refunding bonds generated more than $9.5 million in present value savings, or 9.973%.

The Pasadena Unified School District was formed in 1874 and unified in 1944, covers approximately 76 square miles within Los Angeles County including the cities of Pasadena and Sierra Madre. The District currently operates 20 elementary schools, three middle schools, four comprehensive high schools, one continuation school and one drop out recovery school.

The District has a 2015-16 assessed valuation of $35,360,762,815.

The District has been an investment banking client of RBC Capital Markets for more than two decades. This transaction represents the District’s sixth issue for which the firm has acted as either book-running sole manager or financial advisor since 1998, totalling over $630 million in par amount.

$143.28 million

Denver Public Schools
General Obligation Refunding Bonds, Series 2016A

On April 26, 2016, RBCCM served as senior book-running manager on Denver Public Schools’ (DPS) $143.28MM General Obligation Refunding Bonds, Series 2016A. Proceeds of the refunding were used to advance refund a portion of DPS’ Series 2012B Bonds.

As a member of DPS’ senior underwriter pool, RBCCM constantly monitors DPS’ debt for refunding and restructuring opportunities. Market dynamics allowed DPS to advance refund long dated escrow bonds as municipal yields outperformed Treasuries. Through discussions with DPS staff and its financial advisor, RBCCM structured a refunding with accelerated savings. This structure provides the DPS with additional capacity upfront for a contemplated 2016 bond election, minimizing the immediate effect on DPS taxpayers.

Leading up to pricing, the volatility between the municipal and Treasury ratio was extremely high, resulting in significant movement in the savings target. RBCCM provided the District and its financial advisor with regular refunding and market updates in order to enter the market at an optimal time. Despite some weakness on the day of pricing, DPS’ sale was well received. The resulting decreases in yield and a strong open market escrow bid helped DPS achieve present value savings of over 5%, well in excess of the 3% PV threshold.

$209 million

Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District
Unlimited Tax School Building and Refunding Bonds, Series 2015A

Transaction Summary
RBC Capital Markets served as Senior Manager for Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District (the “District”) on their offering of $209,045,000 Unlimited Tax School Building and Refunding Bonds, Series 2015A (the “2015A Bonds”) on October 20, 2015. The proceeds from the 2015A Bonds will be used to construct, acquire and equip school buildings in the District, purchase sites for school buildings, purchase school buses and refund a portion of the District’s outstanding bonds. The transaction produced $9.44 million in savings or 15.06% of the refunded bonds.

Marketing and Pricing
The transaction priced into a quiet market with many buyers reluctant to invest at low rate levels. RBCCM was still able to attract buyers, and the transaction was well received.

Issuer Overview
The District covers approximately 186 square miles in the western and northwestern portions of Harris County, encompassing the City of Cypress, the City of Fairbanks, the City of Jersey Village and a small portion of the City of Houston. The District currently operates eleven (11) high schools, eighteen (18) middle schools, fifty-four (54) elementary schools and four (4) special program schools. For fiscal year 2014-15, enrollment is reported at 113,190 and taxable property within the District carries an assessed valuation of approximately $44,930,166,124.

Summary of Terms

Size and Offering: S$209,045,000 Unlimited Tax School Building and Refunding Bonds, Series 2015A
Issuer: Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District
Pricing Date: October 20, 2015
Credit Enhancement:   Permanent School Fund of Texas
Credit Ratings: Underlying – Aa1 (Moody’s) /AA (S&P)
  PSF Enhanced – Aaa (Moody’s) / AAA(S&P)
Purpose: New Money and Current Refunding
Tax Status: Tax-Exempt
Structure: Serial bonds beginning 2/15/2016 through 2/15/2036 and term bonds due 2/15/2040
Optional Par Call: February 15, 2025
Average Life: 13.964 years
All-In TIC: 3.269%

Our Team

Frank Vega (California)

Managing Director & Sector Head


Frank Vega, a Managing Director in the RBC Capital Markets Los Angeles public finance office, leads the firm’s California K-14 Education Group and currently serves as sector head for RBCCM’s National K-12 School District practice. 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 Bonds, Certificates of Participation and Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes. Recent examples of Frank’s lead manager and structuring experience include a $129 million G.O. Bond and Note restructuring for South San Francisco Unified School District, and a $5 million technology bond financing to help deliver one-to-one learning devices for Coachella Valley Unified School District.

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 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. While attending Glendale College and U.C. Davis, Frank was a member of the Track & Field teams for both schools, and was part of two Northern California Athletic Conference championships in 1996 and 1997 for U.C. Davis.

Frank is married to Michelle Ann Vega, and has two children, Madeline and Teddy.

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


Dan O’Connell (Colorado)



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.


Julie Santamaria (Florida)



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.


Kent Cashell (Ohio)

Managing Director


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.


Ken Phillips (Pennsylvania)

Managing Director


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.


Lou Verdelli (Pennsylvania)

Managing Director


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.


Matt Boles (Texas)

Managing Director


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.


Christine Pihl (Washington)

Managing Director


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.