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Working with the fintech company BondLink, the district has launched a website to increase transparency into how bond dollars are being spent and to track investor interest for possible future reference.
Fort Worth Independent School District in Texas recently announced the launch of a website designed to increase financial transparency and attract investors to help fund major capital projects throughout the district.
According to a news release, the new online tool, www.FortWorthISDBonds.com, is a free investor-relations website that provides a single location for district investors and stakeholders to access data and documents showing the credit features of the system’s financing programs.
Fort Worth ISD Chief Financial Officer Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria said the main goal of the site is to give the public more clarity about bond issuances, as well as how those funds are used.
“One of the things we wanted to do was increase our transparency within our website as it relates to providing financial information to our investors and any stakeholders that may be interested in looking at not only our bonds but our district,” she said. “And we wanted to put it in one location.”
According to Arrieta-Candelaria, the district recently secured a $1.2 billion bond authorization to cover capital projects, such as major renovations throughout all of the district’s middle schools, construction of a new elementary school and replacement campuses at three locations. She said the bond issuances will be rolled out in phases, starting with $150 million for the construction of a new elementary school.
“We have a $1.2 billion program we passed in November of 2021, and so this $150 million bond is our first issuance under that authorization,” she said. “In Texas, in order for us to issue bonds, we have to pass a referendum through the voters, and the voters give us the permission and authorization to issue debt to build or improve our facilities … We wanted to have another tool in the toolbox to make sure we share with the community what we’re doing with their bond dollars.”
On the district’s end, Arrieta-Candelaria said, the online dashboard allows officials to see web traffic showing who is most interested in the information, which could help build relationships with investors moving forward.
“Under our dashboard, we can go in and actually see who is looking at our website to see if those investors actually came back to the table. This just gives us some additional information and clarity as to who is looking at the district’s information, and then we can be more proactive to try to get those investors to the market,” she said. “The more information we have, the better positioned we will be.”
The district website is powered by the fintech company BondLink, which has also partnered with the city of Fort Worth, the city of Dallas, the city of Arlington, the Texas Water Development Board, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs and other large bond issuers for similar projects.
“Developing a strong investor relations program is an important component of any successful bond financing, especially given the recent turbulence in the market,” BondLink CEO Colin MacNaught said in a statement. “We look forward to partnering with Fort Worth ISD as they continue to be transparent in the market and grow their investor relations program.”
While websites like these remain uncommon among K-12 districts, Arrieta-Candelaria said the resource could prove useful for districts like Fort Worth looking to make financial information more accessible, noting a study from New York University that suggests transparent financial disclosures can lead to lower bond yields for municipal issuers and lower trading costs for investors.
“I think public entities and school districts, in general, need to be able to position our bonds in the best way we can in order to be able to continue to draw interest to our bonds,” she said. “We want to be able to do that by utilizing this tool to increase transparency, not only to our investors but to our taxpayers because we want to be good stewards of our public money.”