DALLAS — Voters in San Antonio’s North East Independent School District will decide on almost $400 million of general obligation bonds as trustees opted to put the larger of two proposed debt requests on the May ballot.

Trustees on Monday set a May 11 election on the $399.4 million proposal after rejecting an option for a $250 million debt package.

The board said in February that the NEISD would hold a bond election in May, but did not settle until this week on which projects would be included.

The 33 projects in the $400 million proposal will help accommodate enrollment growth in the district as well as provide lower operational costs, superintendent Richard Middleton said after trustees approved the larger plan.

“It really addresses the needs of growth, renovation, and upgrades,” he said.

The bond package was developed by a citizens committee that pared down the project list from more than $1 billion of proposals over several months of study and five public meetings, according to Middleton.

“It’s a list that’s been highly refined and vetted,” the superintendent said.

The district’s $1.3 billion of outstanding GO debt is rated Aa1 by Moody’s Investors Service and AA-minus by Standard & Poor’s. The debt is enhanced to triple-A through coverage from the Texas Permanent School Fund.

NEISD is the second-largest school district in Bexar County and the eighth largest in the state.

Current enrollment is more than 66,000 students. The student population has gone up 2.5% a year over the past five years, and officials expect enrollment to reach 69,520 in fiscal 2013.

Proceeds from the bonds would provide $65 million for a new middle school, $48 million for renovations and additions at one high school, and $32 million for classroom additions at another.

Other projects include $64 million for technology upgrades, $45 million for new classrooms to replace portable buildings at three elementary schools, $25 million for preliminary work to replace a middle school campus, and $18.8 million for new classrooms and renovation of an athletic support facility at a middle school.

The district is asking for $9.2 million to replace 100 school buses.

Middleton said the new facilities and buses will result in lower operational and maintenance costs.

“We feel like we’ll save money and also give ourselves more operating money to keep teachers in this pretty tough economic time,” he said.

NEISD last week announced plans to cut its fiscal 2012 budget by $50 million if proposed legislative cuts of state aid to local districts become reality.

District voters approved bond packages of $498 million in 2007, $149 million in 2005, $300 million in 2004, and $155.8 million in 2000.

NEISD has no authorized but unissued debt.

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