Ziegler Closes $9.6 Million Financing for Cornerstone Charter Academy and Cornerstone Charter Academy High School

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Ziegler, a specialty investment banking firm, is pleased to announce the successful closing of a $9,625,000 million financing for the City of Belle Isle, FL and Cornerstone Charter Academy and Cornerstone Charter Academy High School. The Series 2012 bonds will be issued by the City of Belle Isle, which founded the two charter schools, and will fund the acquisition of the existing leased facilities.

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The Cornerstone Charter Academy transaction was one of the first municipal charter schools financed in Florida. The unique relationship between the City and School presented both an opportunity and a challenge for local leaders as well as market...

Ziegler, a specialty investment banking firm, is pleased to announce the successful closing of a $9,625,000 million financing for the City of Belle Isle, FL and Cornerstone Charter Academy and Cornerstone Charter Academy High School. The Series 2012 bonds will be issued by the City of Belle Isle, which founded the two charter schools, and will fund the acquisition of the existing leased facilities.

Cornerstone Charter Academy and Cornerstone Charter Academy High School (together, the Schools) are separately chartered, but commonly governed charter schools located in the City of Belle Isle, Florida. The charters were granted by the School Board of Orange County, Florida and are held by the City of Belle Isle Charter Schools, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation created by the City of Belle Isle (the City) in 2010 for the purpose of operating the Schools.

In 2009, the City of Belle Isle completed a survey of residents and realtors in an effort to understand high residential turnover rates in the city. The primary reason cited for moving from the City was the underperforming public school system. In order to address this issue, the City formed the City of Belle Isle Charter Schools, Inc. to create a high performing K-12 charter school system. The Schools opened in fall 2010 with over 900 students in grades K-12, with enrollment growing to 959 students the following year.

The Schools, under the management of Academica, achieved remarkably strong academic and financial results over the first two years of operations. This helped drive strong demand as demonstrated by steady enrollment growth and a healthy waiting list. Nonetheless, the short operating history precluded an investment grade rating. Additionally, the ownership of the facilities by the City limited the ability to provide additional collateral for investors, since the City was prohibited by law from providing a mortgage on the property.

Ziegler worked closely with the rating agency to obtain the highest non-investment grade rating on the bonds. Additionally, Ziegler worked with the City, their counsel, bond counsel, and underwriter’s counsel to provide as much protection as possible to investors in lieu of the mortgage. These efforts, combined with effective investor communication, allowed Ziegler to price the bonds at a level that satisfied the borrower despite a high volume of new issuance in the market at the time of pricing. Additionally, Ziegler’s leadership proved critical in bringing the financing to a close within a narrow timing window despite a particularly broad working group that included the City and their counsel, the school and the management company and their in-house and outside counsels.

Michael Braun, Director at Ziegler commented, “The Cornerstone Charter Academy transaction was one of the first municipal charter schools financed in Florida. The unique relationship between the City and School presented both an opportunity and a challenge for local leaders as well as market participants. In the end however, the leadership of the City persevered and the acquisition of the facility will help the City in their quest to broaden and improve the education options to residents of the City.”

With more than 100 years of experience, Ziegler is a recognized leader in the educational sector throughout the U.S. That tradition continues today with its dedicated services to the charter school market nationally. Ziegler is ranked as the number one underwriter (in par value) for charter schools in 2011 according to the Electronic Municipal Market Access database (EMMA). Ziegler provides creative, tailored financial solutions for any type of charter school. Ziegler is one of the few financial services firms in the country that has a dedicated team of charter school finance professionals.

For further information on the structure and use of this issue, please see the Official Statement located on the Electronic Municipal Market Access system's Document Archive.

For more information about Ziegler Charter Finance, please visit us at http://www.Ziegler.com/CharterSchools.

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Christine McCarty
Ziegler
312 596 1617
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