DALLAS — The Dallas Independent School District expects to call for a bond election in May, but the exact size and scope of the referendum remains uncertain.
The district’s future facilities task force recently outlined four possible scenarios ranging from about $1.28 billion to roughly $2.65 billion.
“At this stage of the game it’s hard to tell which scenario will be best, but it appears $2 billion is the rough target,” one member of the task force said.
The group is expected to meet again before the end of the month and a workshop with the school board may occur prior to the board’s Feb. 28 meeting. The trustees would have to call for the election at or prior to that meeting to have it on the May 10 ballot.
Under the largest of the possible bond packages, DISD would build eight new elementary schools and three new middle schools, while replacing six elementary campuses, one middle school, and one high school.
Each of the four proposals includes $12 million for science-lab additions and three of the four call for $96 million of technology upgrades. The differences in the size of the bond packages revolves around the number of new schools and classrooms additions, as well as the level of upgrades for athletic facilities and administration and support facilities.
Many of the 229 schools in the state’s second-largest district are more than 50 years old. DISD currently serves more than 160,000 students.
Most of the projects from a $1.37 billion bond package approved by voters in 2002 are completed or nearing completion. The district built 20 new schools, added more than 1,600 classrooms, and renovated numerous existing facilities with proceeds from the bond package.
DISD, which is the 12th largest school system in the country, carries underlying ratings of AA from Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s and Aa3 from Moody’s Investors Service.
Standard & Poor’s analysts said the district’s strong rating reflects a large and diversified economic base, adequate financial position, and a manageable debt burden. DISD has about $1.5 billion of debt outstanding.
Banc of America Securities LLC and Walton Johnson & Co. are the district’s co-financial advisers. Vinson & Elkins LLP and West & Gooden PC serve as co-bond counsel.
DISD last came to market in February 2006 with $290.2 million of unlimited-tax school building bonds. That sale was the final installment from the 2002 authorization.
Yields on the bonds, which were backed by the state’s triple-A rated Permanent School Fund, ranged from 3.35% with a 4% coupon in 2007 to 4.625% with a 4.625% coupon in 2031. The debt is callable at par in 2016.