DISD has capacity to sell bonds

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The Denton school district has the bonding capacity under its current debt service tax rate to sell the more than $76.7 million remaining in its 2007 bond referendum, its financial adviser told the school board at a recent meeting.

Based on assumptions that property tax values will continue to grow, the district could also permit an additional sale of bonds, provided the district calls a bond election and voters approve the referendum. Financial adviser Bill Gumbert of BOSC Inc. brought the presentation to the board Tuesday.

Board President Mia Price said it was the district’s first step in looking at economic trends and the district’s bonding capacity in terms of dollars under the 50-cent debt service tax rate cap.

The state mandates that school districts can collect no more than 50 cents per $100 valuation in debt service tax. The Denton district’s debt service tax rate is 49 cents. The debt service tax helps fund the construction of new facilities.

Price said the news was favorable.

No timetable is set on when the board will look to sell the remaining 2007 bonds, Price said. Before taking any action, the board’s objective is to complete a needs assessment in which it analyzes three to five years out what the facility needs are.

It’s a matter of determining where the district needs to be and the best course of action to take, Price said.

“We know we’re growing,” she said. “We know we need facilities, and we know we don’t have a great deal of bonding capacity, so we really have to be smart in the way we plan for future facilities.”

As enrollment grows, the district will be challenged with meeting facility needs, Price said.

Remaining in the 2007 bond package is the construction of the district’s 22nd elementary school, for which a location has not been determined.

District officials have said the fast-growth areas of the district are along the U.S. Highway 380 corridor and near the Lantana development.

District officials have said land has been acquired for an elementary site along the U.S. 380 corridor where Navo Road turns into Villa Paloma Boulevard.

The district recently entered into an agreement to acquire 12 acres in the southeast portion of the Lantana development for the construction of a future educational facility, likely an elementary school.

The board also saw a table showing the amount in taxable property value growth the district would need over six years to support the sale of any bonds beyond the 2007 package.

According to Gumbert’s presentation, the school district — on average since the 2007 bond election — has increased property values by more than $850 million, an annual average of more than $170 million.

To call a bond election for $50 million, the district’s property values would have to grow by $1.5 billion over the course of six years, or $250 million annually.

To call a bond election for $100 million, property values would have to grow $1.66 billion over six years or $276 million annually.

Gumbert said “the trend looks positive” and that the district has seen some growth in the value of taxable property the past couple of years.

According to the presentation, values grew by more than $216.8 million in the 2011-12 fiscal year and nearly $304 million this current fiscal year.

In 2007, voters approved a bond referendum totaling $282 million. Of that amount the district has sold more than $205 million.

In December 2011, the board approved action to sell $40 million in bonds from the 2007 referendum for the construction of the district’s seventh middle school — Bettye Myers Middle School — that is under way in Shady Shores and slated to open this fall.

 

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is btabor@dentonrc.com.

 

IN OTHER ACTION

Also at Tuesday’s board meeting:

* The school board received the district’s Academic Excellence Indicator System report.

* Robert Gonzalez, principal at Borman Elementary School, presented the board with information on the school’s exploration process and steps taken for the intent to apply to become an International Baccalaureate campus, with board approval. In his presentation, he outlined start-up costs for entering the process to become an IB campus.

* The board was presented with five potential energy conservation measures the district could take and save money in the process.

* The board received a safety and security update that explored how the district has responded to state mandated security audits. Included in the presentation were safety measures used by the school district, including card access at all campuses, more secured entrances at campuses, increased emphasis on lockdown drills, improved visitor procedures at campuses and increased interaction with police.

* The board received a timeline for preparation of the 2013-14 budget.

* The board received an update on the district’s instructional materials allotment and challenges the district could be faced with in the next few years.


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