DALLAS — The Lubbock Independent School District will embark on a four-phase capital improvement program if voters approve a $198 million bond program developed by a citizens’ committee.
School trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to put the bond request before voters as a single question on the Nov. 2 ballot in the West Texas city.
District officials said all 60 facilities would be upgraded or consolidated, with no tax increase required to support the new debt.
The bonds would finance the first phase of a proposed 20-year, four-phase program for the district. Officials had no timetable or cost estimate for the three remaining phases. Voters approved a $98.8 million GO program in 2004. All the bonds authorized in 2004 have been issued.
Trustee Chris Comer said approval of the bond package in November would not obligate the district to proceed with the succeeding phases.
The proceeds would provide $106 million for schools and academics, $39 million for arts and athletics, $25 million for security upgrades, and $28 million for new technology.
A tentative sales schedule prepared by First Southwest Co., which serves as Lubbock ISD’s financial adviser, projects a preliminary tranche of $35 million in early 2011 from the proposed bond package. The authorization would be completed with sales of $45 million in August 2012, and tranches of $59 million in 2013 and 2014.
The district has $110.2 million of outstanding debt rated AA by Standard & Poor’s and Aa1 by Moody’s Investors Service. The debt is enhanced to triple-A through its coverage by the Texas Permanent School Fund program.
Laura Vinson, who served as co-chair of the 27-member citizens panel that examined the district’s facilities and needs, said the group will become a political action committee to support of the bond proposal.
“We’re excited about the unanimous support of the board for the work done by the committee, and we are energized for the next step, which is to make sure it is a success,” Vinson said.
She said the Citizens 2020 Long-Range Planning Committee would become the “Every Child, Every School” group.
“We will be marketing our message, to educate the voters and make sure everyone understands what we are trying to accomplish,” she said. “We’ll be happy to do that wherever we can.”
Board president James Arnold said the district has been paying down debt to keep its tax rate as low as possible. Approval of the $198 million package will not require an increase in the district’s property tax rate of $1.235 per $100 of assessed valuation, he said.
“Everything in this package is something we need for our district to be competitive and for our students to be successful,” he said. “The good news is that it doesn’t require a tax increase.”
The facilities portion of the bond projects includes $34 million to build two new elementary schools that would replace four existing schools
The security aspect includes $11 million to expand cafeterias at three high schools. When the work is completed, students would not be allowed to leave the campus at lunch. The district has 28,500 students. Total assessed valuation is $8.9 billion, up from $8.3 billion in 2009.