Orange School Board Authorizes Investment Advisor to Trade for District

PEPPER PIKE, Ohio — The Orange School Board has authorized Treasurer Todd Puster to recalibrate the district’s investment portfolio based on recommendations from an advisor the district has employed since 2015.

Cincinnati-based RedTree Investment Group will continue to serve as the District’s investment advisor and now has the authority to make financial transactions it deems to be in the District’s best interests.

On Monday (August 8), RedTree portfolio managers Ryan Nelson and Joe Violand made a presentation to the board to provide an update on “what’s going on with interest rates in the market and how it affects district investments,” Nelson said.

Nelson and Violand made a similar presentation to the Board’s Audit and Finance Committee on August 2.

Nelson, co-founder of RedTree, described it as an independent company focused on investing public funds in Ohio.

The Board-approved Investment Policy will enable RedTree to provide parameters within which District funds will be invested or deposited, as well as guidance regarding the investment and deposit of those funds.

“We invest a portion of school funds that are not needed for day-to-day operations,” Nelson said.

Violand said short-term interest rates had risen “dramatically” over the past year.

“When interest rates rise, bond prices fall,” Nelson said. “This is what we call the seesaw effect.”

The reverse is also true, Nelson said.

“Because the district owns marketable securities, you’ve seen a decline in the market value of the holdings,” he said. “So it comes down to a conversation about recalibrating or repositioning in investing on some of the district’s current investments.

“It could be beneficial to liquidate some of the current low-yielding holdings and possibly consider higher-yielding securities that would pay off in the long run.”

This type of trading depends on the market, Nelson said.

“So what we’re looking for is direction from the board that if it made sense, and there would be a net benefit to the school district, we would have the ability to move forward with that.” , did he declare.

Chairman of the board, Scott Bilsky, said he believed all investments recommended by RedTree “would be acceptable investments that we already have in our portfolio.”

“We’re not changing our investment strategy or anything,” he said. “It’s just on a case-by-case basis that we would consider that.”

Violand added that RedTree would “also comply with the Orange School District’s specific asset allocation statement.”

Puster said he’s comfortable with a mix of stocks for the district, so he wouldn’t want to drastically reposition his portfolio.

“My goal is not to weight assets very differently; it’s just to take advantage of market conditions,” he said.

“The most important thing is the safety and security of taxpayer dollars entrusted to us. I am not willing to inject additional risk into the portfolio; this strategy would not do that.

High School Renovation Update

Ted Roseberry, district business operations manager, provided an update on the renovation project at Orange High School, including a slideshow of photos showing the progress.

In January, the council approved a large-scale refurbishment of the secondary school’s changing rooms and main entrance. The contract with the Albert M. Higley Co. of Cleveland provides for a guaranteed maximum price of approximately $3.87 million.

Roseberry said the masonry work at the front of the building has been completed and a single-entry vestibule has been installed at the front.

“We are going to cut the door on Thursday (August 11) and Friday (August 12),” he said. “You’ll have a drink on Friday.”

Students will be able to enter the building through the front doors when they return to school on Aug. 22, as planned, Roseberry said.

“We will have tempered glass installed in all windows,” he said. “But that’s not the end product. You’ll probably have more secure glass windows the first week of September.

In the renovated weight room, the student-athletes are already using the new equipment that was purchased, Roseberry said.

“The old weight room is now the agility room,” he said. “It’s not complete, but it’s close.”

The former wrestling hall has been transformed into a multi-purpose media room, including an 83- to 85-inch screen TV for sports teams “to break down the movie,” Roseberry said.

“This room can also be used for cheerleaders or the Lionettes (the drill team that performs with the marching band) and possibly yoga classes and a testing area,” he said.

The college football locker room will likely retain that usage, but it can be used by either gender as needed, Roseberry said.

Roseberry said the project is on time and on budget, but added, “We won’t be as much under budget as I would like, due to some of the things we do to be on time.

“We had a labor shortage like everyone else,” he said. “So from July 30, we started working on Saturdays, working (about seven hours a day) to catch up.

“And from (Monday evening), we started a second team, using subcontractors. Higley went out and hired extra contractors that they use for other work, so they bring in extra people that way to get us finished on time.

The district’s goal has been to complete the project before the school year resumes on August 22. Roseberry said he expects most of the work to be done by Aug. 18.

“But we’re going to do plans B, C and D,” he said. “We will install the old lockers that we have kept and coordinate them with the new lockers when they come in.

“We will come back in October or November and install the new equipment that we have ordered.”

Along the same lines, a temporary birch door will be installed in place of the “oak doors we had planned for the project,” Roseberry said.

“There is nothing stopping us from opening a school,” he said. “The paving will also be completed.”

Roseberry also noted that the resurfacing of the Orange High School tennis courts has been completed and a new water fountain has been added outside the courts.

The next board meeting will be at 6 p.m. on August 22.

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