DALLAS — Trustees of Carroll Independent School District will vote Monday night on what to do about $138.8 million of potential projects needed across the North Texas district.

Lone Star state issuers must decide by Monday whether to hold a bond election in May or not.

Last month, a facility committee recommended the board call for an election with three propositions.

The largest ballot item would be for a new elementary school, a new middle school and technology, and security upgrades district-wide. The second proposition calls for enhancements of the district’s fine arts programs, including theater and band, as well as improvements to some athletic facilities at various campuses. The final ballot item would be for funds to expand the district’s football stadium.

Julie Thannum, the district’s executive director of communications and marketing, said splitting the bond package into three separate propositions may help get them all approved by voters. She said the district had a bond package fail a few years ago and then officials came back five months later with essentially the same projects split into multiple propositions and they all passed.

In November, the nearby Keller Independent School District broke its bond package into two propositions and voters approved $142.3 million for two new campuses but rejected $25.6 million for a second football stadium.

Thannum said Carroll officials now believe their football stadium was too small when it opened with 7,500 seats. She said some additional seating was put in when the Dallas Burn of Major League Soccer used the stadium for a while, bring capacity to about 11,000. The expansion plans outlined in the bond package call for 1,600 more seats, as well as a new turf and expansions to the press box.

Southlake Carroll high school has become a national football power this decade, finishing atop the USA Today Super 25 in both 2004 and 2006 laying claim to the national title both years.

Thannum also said six of the district’s 11 campuses are running at over-capacity and the technology system is in dire need of an upgrade.

“We haven’t had a technology bond in 10 years, and some of the computers the children use are older than them,” she said.

Carroll ISD, which is just northwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, serves 7,900 students in 11 schools.

Thannum also stressed that the bond package won’t involve a tax-rate increase.

“None of the scenarios we’ve looked at call for an increase in the tax rate and that’s very important given the current economy,” she said. “No one, not the administration, not our financial director, not the bond committee, wanted to put a package before voters that included a higher tax rate,” she said.

In October, both Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s upgraded their ratings on the district’s underlying credit. Moody’s raised its rating to Aa3 from A2, while Standard & Poor’s bumped its rating up to AA from A-plus.

Analysts said the upgrades reflect the district’s continued tax-base growth and sustained strong financial position.

Standard & Poor’s said the district’s population has more than doubled in the past 10 years or so to more than 28,000, which resulted in an enrollment gain of nearly 50%. The 2009 taxable-assessed value within the district of $5.3 billion is up 10.7% from the year earlier and an increase of about 65% since fiscal 2003, according to analysts.

Moody’s said “growth in the tax base should continue at a steady pace while maintaining high wealth levels,” given current new construction.

Coastal Securities Inc. is the financial adviser to the school district and McCall, Parkhurst & Horton LLP serves as bond counsel. The district has no authorized but unissued debt.

 

 

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