DALLAS — The Klein Independent School District is bringing $32 million of unlimited tax schoolhouse bonds to the competitive market Tuesday, as officials begin the process of calling for another bond election in May. This tranche of debt is from a $224 million bond package passed by voters in 2004. The district will have about $44.2 million remaining under that authorization following next week’s sale. Associate superintendent Thomas Petrek said the district plans to issue most of the remainder in August or possibly next December, as well as two smaller issues next year for technology upgrades.The district recently formed a 112-person bond-steering committee to consider another bond package for May’s ballot. State law mandates Texas school districts hold bond elections in May or November. The committee hopes to make its final recommendation to the administration in January, and the school board needs to call for the election in March to get it before voters in May.Officials expect the district’s enrollment of 42,730 to continue to climb over the next few years to nearly 49,500 for the 2010-2011 school year. The student population is projected to reach 60,000 by 2016.Three of the district’s four high schools operate with enrollments that are over capacity and the fourth — Klein High School — is the oldest in the district, at 44 years. At a meeting last month, the bond steering committee decided to build a fifth high school and move Klein High School to the new campus as the old structure is rebuilt.The new high school would open in 2011, with the old building back on line in 2013.Committee members are also considering seven new elementary schools and a couple of intermediate schools.Petrek said officials still expect the growth to continue, but not at the pace of the last four years or so.“Now our challenge isn’t the growth itself so much as the changing demographics of the district,” he said. “We’ve taken in more at-risk students and it costs more to educate these kids. So now we are trying to hire more teachers and lower the student-teacher ratios at our schools.”The district is is about 23 miles north of downtown Houston.Standard & Poor’s assigned a AA-minus underlying rating to the issue, citing the district’s “strong financial position, coupled with four years of surpluses,” and “continued successful proactive management of its significant growth-related capital and operational pressures.” Moody’s Investors Service rates the school system’s underlying credit Aa2. Fitch Ratings doesn’t rate the credit.The Series 2008 bonds, which also are backed by the state’s triple-A rated Permanent School Fund, will be offered through Ipreo’s Parity electronic-bidding system.Standard & Poor’s analysts said the district’s assessed valuation has grown by 40% in the past five years to $10.1 billion for fiscal 2008. “Most of the growth we’ve had this year was in new construction,” Petrek said. “The downturn from the subprime mortgages seemed to impact values of existing homes more than new construction. We still have plenty of people moving to Klein and still have plenty of people that want to send their children to Klein schools.”RBC Capital Markets is the financial adviser to the district. Vinson & Elkins and Bates & Coleman serve as co-bond counsel.
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