DALLAS — The Alamo Heights Independent School District in Texas is asking voters in the to approve a $44 million bond package on May 8.
The nine-square-mile district, bound on all sides by other districts within San Antonio, needs the proceeds to upgrade technology, expand the music hall at its high school, and provide more classroom space by reconfiguring existing facilities.
The district’s outstanding general obligation debt of $76 million is rated Aa3 by Moody’s Investors Service. The existing debt is enhanced to triple-A status through coverage by the Texas Permanent School Fund’s bond guarantee program.
Michael Hagar, director of business and finance, said the proposed bonds would also qualify for the PSF guarantee.
Enrollment in the district is at a 40-year high with more than 4,700 students, Hagar said, but no new facilities are included in the $44 million proposal. The original capital project proposal totaled $56 million, but officials opted to use existing space rather than add new classrooms.
“We are getting more students, but what we are doing here is reconfiguring the elementary schools to provide more classroom space,” he said.
The bond program includes $20.4 million for academic facility projects, $13.2 million for operational efficiencies, and $8.9 million for capital maintenance.
The district plans to replace all the existing roofs on its five school facilities, and install solar panel arrays on them at a cost of approximately $6.5 million.
Hagar said the district will sell electricity generated by the panels to City Public Service, the municipal electric and gas utility, for 27 cents per kilowatt hour.
The sales of electricity from the panels could generate $470,000 a year for the district’s operational budget for the next 20 years, Hagar said.
With an assessed valuation of $5.9 billion, the district is deemed wealthy by the state, and must surrender a portion of its operational and maintenance tax revenue for redistribution to poorer districts.
The state does not recapture revenues generated by the debt service portion of the tax rate, Hagar said, so it can retain more revenue by issuing bonds than it could by purchasing equipment from the general fund.
“We save well over 40% if we use bond proceeds rather than the general fund,” he said.
Alamo Heights ISD has the lowest property tax rate of any district in Bexar County with an operations and maintenance rate of $1.04 per $100 of assessed value and a debt service rate of 12 cents. Hagar said approval of the bonds may require a two-cent increase in the tax rate over three years.