DALLAS — With most of its schools about 50 years old and portable facilities across many campuses, the Tyler Independent School District wants voters to approve a $124.9 million bond package to continue a long-term construction plan.

The East Texas district wants to build six new schools to replace aging facilities and eliminate about 60 portables in the second phase of the master plan outlined in 2004 ahead of the approval of a $96 million bond referendum. The district exhausted bond package and completed construction of seven new campuses.

Director of financial services Tosha Bjorn said “tremendous cost increases” of late mean officials now have to use more money to build fewer schools.

“It’s something that’s happening everywhere and we felt it best to kind of bite it off in small chunks rather than have one larger bond,” she said.

Voters rejected a bond package in 2002. Officials initially planned to build another 10 schools in this second phase of the plan, but will now push four projects to the back burner and may end up adding a fifth phase to the master plan to accomplish all the things laid out in 2004, Bjorn said.

Tyler ISD has added about 170 new students annually the past five years and has a current enrollment  of nearly 18,100. Projections show enrollment topping 20,000 by 2014. The total population within the district is now more 100,000 and up about 20% from a decade ago.

Bjorn said any new-money bonds wouldn’t get to market before the first quarter of next year.

RBC Capital Markets is financial adviser and Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP is bond counsel to the district, which  is about 100 miles east of downtown Dallas and 100 miles west of Shreveport, La.

Tyler ISD carries underlying ratings of AA from Standard & Poor’s.

The agency’s analysts said credit strengths include a diverse manufacturing and service-based economic base, a growing economy, and sound financial management.

A few other Texas school districts have large bond packages on today’s ballot.

Round Rock Independent School District split roughly $294 million into two propositions after earlier paring down a proposed $350 million referendum. Officials worried that figure was too high and the board removed a few projects.

The first proposition of $156.6 million is for three new elementary schools, buses, technology upgrades, and land for future sites. The other proposition of $137.5 million is for upgrades to two aging high school campuses and new science laboratory for a middle school and other renovations.

The district currently serves about 40,500 students at 42 campuses and has been adding nearly 1,200 to 1,500 students annually for a few years, although growth moderated to roughly 600 new students last year.

A decade ago, the suburban district just north of Austin served slightly more than 26,000 students, and officials now project an enrollment of 45,000 by 2013.

Both San Angelo Independent School District and Keller Independent School District also decided to put two propositions before voters.

San Angelo ISD in west central Texas has $117 million for renovations to 11 campuses and $32 million for upgrades at a high school on the ballot.

Located in the northern part of the Dallas-Worth Forth metroplex, Keller ISD is seeking passage of $142.3 million for new schools and $25.6 million for a second football stadium.



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