DALLAS — The Conroe Independent School District plans to offer $98.4 million of school building and refunding bonds this week, but overall supply remains limited in Texas.
Aside from that nearly $100 million sale, there’s isn’t one issue worth more than $11 million currently on the calendar.
About 30 miles north of Houston, Conroe ISD will offer $85 million of Series 2009A unlimited-tax school building bonds and $13.4 million of Series 2009B unlimited-tax refunding bonds through negotiated sales led by Goldman, Sachs & Co.
The new-money bonds are serials maturing in 2011 through 2035, while the refunding bonds mature in 2013 through 2021.
The debt won’t be backed by Texas’ triple-A rated Permanent School Fund because the state suspended the program due to the declining value of the fund. This necessitates districts purchase private bond insurance or rely upon their underlying credit to garner the best available rates when bringing bonds to market.
RBC Capital Markets is the financial adviser to the growing Conroe district and Vinson & Elkins LLP is bond counsel.
Ryan O’Hara, vice president with RBC, said the district’s underlying credit is strong and “there’s too much savings on the table not to go now” despite the absence of the PSF.
Standard & Poor’s recently upgraded the district’s underlying credit to AA from AA-minus, citing consistent expansion of the tax base, sustained enrollment growth, and a “very strong financial performance.”
Moody’s Investors Service assigned its Aa3 rating to the sale.
Analysts said the district’s current population of 252,500 is up nearly 51% from 167,544 in 2000, while the property tax base has increased 55% the past five years to $18.3 billion for fiscal 2009.
Prior to a bond election last May, district officials announced plans to build at least seven new campuses to house a growing enrollment that’s projected to add about 21,500 students over the next eight years.
Voters then approved a $527 million bond package and this is the second issue from that authorization.
The district is adding almost 1,500 students a year and has a total enrollment of nearly 48,000 in 50 schools.
Montgomery County includes Conroe and has experienced rapid residential growth over the past quarter century. The current population of about 413,000 is up more than 40% since the 2000 Census figure of nearly 294,000. Montgomery County is adjacent to Harris County, which includes Houston and is the third-most populous county in the country with nearly 4.1 million residents, up from 3.4 million in 2000.
The Hutto Independent School District expects to offer $9 million of general obligation bonds Tuesday through a negotiated sale led by RBC.
Last month, Standard & Poor’s raised its rating on the district to A from BBB-plus due to “significant property-tax base growth and a manageable capital improvement plan despite enrollment pressures.”
SAMCO Capital Markets is the financial adviser to the growing district and Fulbright & Jaworski LLP is bond counsel.
One official said the district is considering private bond insurance for the issue, but a decision won’t be made until just before pricing.
Hutto ISD serves nearly 4,900 students at eight campuses about 20 miles north of downtown Austin. Total enrollment has more than doubled since 2003 and officials had been projecting 20% annual enrollment growth, but recently scaled that back to about 8% for next year, according to analysts.
Still, affordable housing and access to the Austin-area employment base continue to spur growth and Hutto ISD remains the “fastest growing school district” in Texas, according to Standard & Poor’s. The student population may reach nearly 15,000 by 2015.
Analysts said the district assessed valuation has grown by 320% the past five years to $1.4 billion for fiscal 2009.
Moody’s rates the Hutto school district’s underlying credit at Baa2.
Elsewhere, Mansfield expects to price $11 million of general obligation refunding bonds this week through a negotiated sale with Southwest Securities Inc. as sole manager.
First Southwest Co. is the financial adviser to the growing city in the southern part of the DFW metroplex.
The city carries underlying ratings of AA-minus from both Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s, and Aa3 from Moody’s.
The estimated population of Mansfield is about 58,000, which is more than double the 28,031 at the 2000 Census. The formerly rural area about 20 miles southeast of Fort Worth was just a small town back in 1980, home to about 8,100 people.
The North Texas town of Sherman is bringing a two-tranche deal to the competitive market today. The city will offer $5 million of tax and waterworks and sewer system revenue certificates of obligation and $3 million of limited-tax notes.
Specialized Public Finance Inc. is the financial adviser to the city, which is located about 60 miles north of Dallas.
Fulbright & Jaworski is bond counsel. Standard & Poor’s assigned a AA rating to the debt.