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San Antonio ISD Sets Its Biggest Issue for November Vote

DALLAS — The San Antonio Independent School District will ask voters in November to approve its largest bond proposal, $515 million to upgrade facilities and technology.

The district, which has seen enrollment dip by 2.6% since fiscal 2004, wants to close five older schools and move their students into facilities renovated with bond proceeds. The district said the consolidation would save $100 million in operating costs over the next 10 years.

The city ISD serves central San Antonio and is one of the 15 largest school districts in Texas. Its general obligation debt has an unenhanced rating of AA-minus from Standard & Poor's. The bonds are enhanced to triple-A by the Texas Permanent School Fund.

School Board president James Howard said the bond proposal focuses on modernizing the district's aging facilities. He said half of the schools are 50 years old, with some facilities more than 100 years old.

"We want to provide quality educational facilities," Howard said. "We have schools that need significant renovations and this bond proposal would bring classrooms up to current standards."

The bond proposal includes $347.4 million for renovations to 22 schools, including infrastructure repairs and classroom additions. The district said 14 of the schools would be upgraded to modern standards.

Other aspects include $73.8 million to add or upgrade space for high school career and vocational programs, and $44 million for improvements to safety and security systems.

The proposal will be presented to voters as a single ballot item.

Trustee Robert Cuero, who cast the sole vote against setting the election for Nov. 2, failed in his attempt to pose a separate question for $35 million of improvements to the Alamo Stadium and Convocation Center complex.

The effort to renovate the 70-year-old stadium was added to the project list by superintendent Robert Durón after the work was not included in the bond program developed by a citizens committee.

Durón said the district has met with officials from Spurs Sports & Entertainment, which is interested in the facility as the home for a proposed minor league soccer team, but no agreements are imminent.

SS&E is a holding company that operates the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association. A company spokesman said SS&E is interested in ensuring the 23,000-seat stadium is well maintained, but has no formal agreement with the district for its use.

San Antonio is the second-largest city in Texas with a population of 1.4 million people, according to the Census Bureau.

The proposed stadium renovation would include upgrades to the plumbing system and improved seating. It does not include replacing the existing artificial surface with natural grass as required for soccer.

Taxes on the average home in the district would go up by $1.58 a month in 2012, the district said, and peak at an additional $9.97 per month by 2027.

Total assessed property value in the district is $15.5 billion.

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