Educational institutions of all types are some of the largest beneficiaries of tax exempt bonds. Our bond attorneys have considerable experience handling public finance transactions for state colleges and universities, private colleges and universities, charter public schools, traditional public schools, and private elementary and secondary schools, including church affiliated schools. These financings can take the form of the direct issuance of bonds by the institution, or the use of conduit state or local issuers to issue revenue bonds on behalf of the school or university.
For traditional public school districts, the financing can often involve the issuance of general obligation bonds, and, where necessary, the approval of the voters in a bond referendum. In addition, school districts may also access public finance by means of lease-purchase of equipment. The bond lawyers at Howell Linkous & Nettles have plenty of experience in assisting school districts in accessing the municipal bond markets for their funding needs using any of these financing techniques.
Our firm has extensive experience in charter school financings, including many innovative transactions, serving as bond counsel, underwriter’s counsel, disclosure counsel, general counsel or issuer’s counsel. Our firm served as bond counsel to a charter public school in structuring a first-of-its-kind tax-exempt, bank qualified bond issue for a charter school in South Carolina. Our firm served as bond counsel in the first public issuance of bonds for a charter school in South Carolina, and also served as disclosure counsel in the first rated bond issue for a charter school in the State. We have also been instrumental in creating several innovative financing programs for charter schools in South Carolina, including a program which pairs the short-term public issuance of notes for construction financing with long-term permanent financing through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Facilities Program, as well as the development of the South Carolina Charter School Facilities Revolving Loan Program administered by the South Carolina State Treasurer’s Office.
Our bond lawyers have served as bond counsel and underwriter’s counsel for State and private higher education institutions, as well as for private and religious schools. One of the issues that church affiliated schools and universities may face in bond financing is the First Amendment issue of separation of church and state. Having served as bond counsel to several church affiliated institutions, our bond attorneys are very familiar with ways to address this issue.
Howell Linkous & Nettles has served as bond counsel, underwriter’s counsel, and issuer’s counsel with the financing of academic buildings, administrative facilities, dormitories, dining facilities, research facilities, and athletic facilities. Some of our more intricate deals have included public/private partnerships in which the private sector brings its strengths to a project for the benefit of a public university or college.
With regard to the selection of bond counsel, we believe that the educational institution is smart to look for the bond lawyers that the school’s administration and governing board feel will be most responsive to its needs, and who will work most diligently, effectively, and economically. The institution needs lawyers who are accessible to its staff throughout the financing process. The bond lawyers must be willing to spend all the time necessary to counsel the school or university through what may be a lengthy process. After all, the financing put in place today will significantly impact the financial path of the institution, which will certainly be around long after the individuals who work on the financing. Our lawyers relish the opportunity to provide this quality of service to the firm’s educational institution clients.