DALLAS — The fast-growing Northside Independent School District in San Antonio plans to devote a majority of the proceeds from a requested $535 million general obligation bond issue to projects at existing facilities for the first time in almost two decades.
The district has promised voters that it would spend $272.3 million, or 51% of the proceeds, on upgrades and improvements at its 104 schools. The remaining $267.7 million would be allocated to building six new schools on land purchased with proceeds from an earlier bond package.
School bond elections across the state are set for May 8. Texas school districts can submit bond packages to voters only in May and November.
Northside ISD is the largest of the 12 school districts in San Antonio and Bexar County, and the fourth-largest school district in Texas.
The district’s debt carries underlying ratings of Aa2 from Moody’s Investors Service and AA from Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s. Its $1.64 billion of outstanding debt is enhanced to triple-A with support from the Texas Permanent School Fund.
Superintendent John Folks said the district has been adding 200 new classrooms a year with proceeds from earlier bond issues, but enrollment increases have slowed down.
“In just the eight years that I’ve been superintendent, we’ve opened 30 new schools,” Folks said. “We need to continue to add new schools but also to upgrade and maintain our older schools.”
About half the district’s schools are at least 20 years old, and some were built in the 1950s and 1960s.
Since 1995, Folks said, Northside voters have approved more than $1.9 billion of school debt. The 2007 bond package was approved by 70% of those voting.
“One of the measures of an excellent district is the level of support that a community has for bond issues,” Folks said. “I’m happy to say that, in Northside, confidence is high.”
The district is on schedule to open five new schools this summer, built with proceeds from a $692.7 million authorization in 2007. Voters also approved bond packages of $439 million in 2004 and $405 million in 2001.
Enrollment has been growing at the rate of 4,000 new students a year, but officials expect growth to slow down to 3,000 annually for the next 10 years.
The number of students rose is now pegged at 91,578, up from 63,801 in 2000. Officials expect enrollment to reach 114,488 in 2019.
Northside ISD serves a total population estimated at more than 500,000 people living in northwest San Antonio and small unincorporated areas of Medina and Bandera counties. Assessed valuation in the 356-square-mile district totals $31.9 billion.