DALLAS — Houston Independent School District officials will provide details on a proposed $1.8 billion general obligation bond proposal to school trustees at Thursday’s workshop session.
Superintendent Terry Grier will outline the results of a facilities assessment of district campuses by Parsons Corp. that trustees ordered earlier this year.
The company was hired by the school district in March to update a 2007 assessment.
The board must decide on a project list by early August to put a bond question on the Nov. 6 ballot.
A $1.8 billion request would be more than double that of the district’s last bond proposal of $805 million. Voters narrowly approved the bonds in November 2007, with 51% in favor, after a coalition of black leaders led a campaign to defeat the proposal.
The district’s $2.3 billion of outstanding GO debt is rated Aaa by Moody’s Investors Service and AA-plus by Standard & Poor’s.
Its debt is enhanced to triple-A with coverage by Texas’ Permanent School Fund
The 300-square-mile district serves most of Houston. With more than 200,000 students and some 300 campuses, it is the largest school district in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States.
District voters approved $808.6 million of GO bonds in 2002 and $678 million of bonds in 1998.
Grier first brought up the idea for a bond election in 2012 at his annual state of the district speech in March.
He said earlier this week that the proposed 2012 bond package would focus on projects to replace, upgrade and repair many of the district’s high schools.
“We have many more schools with unmet facility needs that must be addressed soon, particularly at the high school level,” he said.
Grier said the district’s property tax rate of $1.157 per $100 of assessed value is the lowest of the 20 school districts in Harris County.
The tax includes $1.04 per $100 for maintenance and operations and an interest and sinking rate of $0.117 for debt service.
Approval of $1.8 billion of new GO bonds could require an increase in the debt service portion of the tax rate of up to $0.0625, district officials said.
The district was scheduled to complete all 180 projects in the 2007 bond program by the end of this year.
More than 100 projects have been completed or are under construction, but the 71 that are now in the planning or design stage will not be completed until 2014.
District spokesman Jason Spencer said 16 new or replacement schools have been built with the 2007 bond proceeds, another six are under construction, and two are still in the planning phase.
More than 100 campuses were renovated.
“All of those projects have come in on budget,” he said. “It was a good time to be building and we were able to take advantage of it.”
Keeping up with a growing enrollment and aging schools is a continuous process, Spencer said.
“It’s like doing laundry,” he said. “You’re never done. There’s always more that needs to be done.”