DALLAS — Denver Public Schools will test voters' debt tolerance in the general election this November with a $466 million bond proposal to finance remodeling and improvements.
A second proposal will seek a $49 million operating tax increase.
The school board voted 5-2 on Thursday to put the measure on the ballot in what is expected to be a large-turnout election.
Colorado is a key battleground state in the presidential election and has hosted both candidates.
Republican Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan are touting anti-tax themes favored by the Tea Party.
The city and county of Denver, however, is considered a Democratic stronghold where voters have generally supported public schools.
School board president Mary Seawell expressed disappointment that the vote in favor of the bond issue and tax increase was not unanimous.
The likelihood of approval for a bond issue in a general election can be risky, as voters who might not turn out in a stand-alone bond election fill the polls.
An overlapping taxing entity, the Regional Transportation District has been considering asking voters for a sales tax increase over the past two years to complete its FasTracks bond project.
After postponing a vote last year due to the recession, the RTD board decided again this year that approval was too risky.
Denver Public Schools, which issues debt under the name Denver City and County School District No. 1, sold $127 million of refunding bonds in January.
The refunding bonds earned ratings of AA-minus from Standard & Poor's with a stable outlook based on the Colorado School District Credit Enhancement Program that wraps the bonds. Moody's Investors Service rated the debt Aa2. Both agencies provided a stable outlook.
The analysts also affirmed their ratings of A-plus from Standard & Poor's and Aa3 from Moody's on the district's outstanding $808.5 million of certificates of participation.
Through the issuance of the 2011A and 2011B COPs, the district converted its $750 million of Series 2008A and 2008B variable-rate pension COPs to approximately $400 million of fixed-rate pension COPs Series 2011B, and the rest to variable-rate mode with letters of credit provided by JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Royal Bank of Canada.
Assured Guaranty will continue to provide insurance on the 2011A COPs.