Troy Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Christine DiPilato talks to students in the district about what a bond is and how it works.

Troy Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Christine DiPilato talks to students in the district about what a bond is and how it works.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

Troy uses bond sale as educational opportunity for students

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published February 23, 2023

 Troy Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Rick West tells district students about the different phases of asking for and using a bond as a special presentation Feb. 7.

Troy Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Rick West tells district students about the different phases of asking for and using a bond as a special presentation Feb. 7.

Photo by Brendan Losinski


TROY — With Troy voters’ approval of a new bond last year, Troy School District officials knew they would have an influx of funds coming into the district; they used the opportunity to show students how the bond process works in real time.

On Feb. 7, the bonds were sold on the market, and high school students from around the district gathered at Athens High School to observe the sale as it was projected on a screen, seeing chunks of the bond get bought out by investors.

“From the very beginning, when we knew we would have the opportunity to sell the bonds, one of the first things we talked about was how we could involve the students,” explained Superintendent Richard Machesky. “It was important to us to live up to one of our district’s core values, which was finding a way to connect our students’ learning with the real world. So, this was one of the best examples of doing that, bringing the professionals in and doing the actual sale right in front of them.”

In addition to seeing the bond get sold, professionals involved in all steps of the bond process — from those who appraised the district’s credit rating to those who would work on designing and constructing a new building paid for by the bond — were present and showed the students what their roles were and how their jobs work.

“There were several professionals here today. … They explained about their roles and what their backgrounds are,” said Machesky. “Our underwriter, from Stifel Banking and Lending, who is in the market doing the work, was present. They had their team here today. We had our law firm here, Miller Canfield, our construction company, Barton Malow. TMP, our architectural firm, was here. PFM, the individual who works between us and the underwriter, also played a role showing how they get the best possible rates and sales.”

Brodie Killian, the managing director of Stifel Public Finance, was among the presenters and said that it was a rare opportunity for students to see such a process in action.

“It’s a very unique opportunity that doesn’t happen very often where we can show one of these sales in real time to the people it’s affecting,” he said. “We were contacted by the district officials with this idea of engaging students. We were able to show the students — live — what was happening at our trading desk in St. Louis, as well as the municipal advisor’s desk in Charlotte. They could watch the order period live and watch the investors put in their orders. It created great dialogue with the students about the process and the roles in the process. More importantly, we talked a lot about career paths and helped them visualize what type of career or study path they might become a part of.”

The hope was that seeing the process in action might not only educate students but encourage them to explore career paths they had never looked at before.

“I want students to walk away with an understanding of what goes on behind the scenes and how it’s more than just the numbers you see in the news or on TV,” Machesky said. “I want them to gain an appreciation for the process, but also get an appreciation for the number of various fields that go into this work and the professionals behind that. They may not have thought about going into these fields before, but this may get them interested after seeing that they might like what one of the individuals speaking today is doing.”

Many students remarked about how the unusual program was interesting to see happen and that it was enlightening to hear from so many different people involved in the process.

“I learned about the financial aspects of this and how stocks are heavily involved in the bond and how it needs to be sold to all different sorts of people,” said Prisha Vaida, a sophomore at Athens. “There are so many different people involved in this one process.”

“I learned about how bonds work, and I was really surprised how everything from managing the money works and how it benefits Troy schools,” added fellow Athens sophomore Zahra Syed. “I hope we can attend more types of events like this in the future.”

Both also said the whole program gave them a lot to think about in terms of their future careers.

“I really want to go into something finance-related, so I really wanted to take this opportunity to learn more about how that goes into a bond sale like this,” said Vaida. “I would love to learn more about accounting. I learned a lot today.”

“I want to go into finance and business and maybe become a stock broker,” Syed added. “I want to explore more about bonds. I would love to do an internship in that area.”

Stifel reported that the sale went as well or better than they had anticipated.

“The bond sale went very well,” Killian remarked. “Considering we had a large transaction of $170 million in bonds to sell, we anticipate all of them will be sold by the end of the order period. There was a small amount of unsold balances that will be cleaned up, but there was great demand across the entire yield from all kinds of investors; from large mutual funds to small, separately managed accounts and bank trust departments. It’s a testament to how strong Troy schools’ credit rating is, as well as the team they put together to sell the bonds.”

“I was very pleased with how things went today,” Maschesky added. “I am very confident that we are going to see a full sale of these bonds at a number that will make sense for voters here in the district. There’s a good chance that we will raise $190 million as a result of today’s sale and we will use that money during the first three to four years of this whole bond term, which is over 10 years.”

Killian noted that there was even a large portion of the bond bought by a major firm that the students got to see happen live.

“Toward the end of the order period, we had a large institution in New York come in with an order of about $20 million,” he said. “The students got to see some very large transactions in real time.”

The funds from the bond will be used in the district in phases. Work on the first phase of projects has already begun.

“In this first series, we will be doing furniture upgrades across the district,” said Machesky. “We will be doing playground upgrades at the elementary schools. We will be starting work on our athletic facilities at Troy High School and Athens High School. Our biggest project will be the rebuilding of Smith Middle School and breaking ground about a year from now.”

He said that using the opportunity to grow the district while simultaneously educating students is exactly the kind of unorthodox educational opportunities they are happy to provide in return for the community’s support for measures such as the bond approval.

“We asked voters to dig into their pockets and pay more. They came back with 60% of voters agreeing to a 2-mill increase,” Machesky remarked. “They said they believe in this school district, and we never take that for granted. We want to thank the voters in Troy for their trust and their confidence.”