The Texas Bureau of Watchdog.org is out with a new article today chronicling yet another big urban school district that is both losing student population and toying with taking on huge amounts of new debt.
From today’s article:
“Despite declining enrollment and rising revenues, a San Antonio school district is seeking to float $450 million in additional debt and a maximum property tax increase.”
“The bond issue – the third since 2001 – comes on top of $765,579,988 in unpaid principal from SAISD’s earlier debt offerings.”
“If approved by the School Board on Aug. 15 — and the votes appear to be there — the bond and tax proposals will go on the Nov. 8 ballot.”
As Watchdog rightly points out, the district’s principal amount of debt already exceeds $700 million, working out to be more than $13,500 owed per student. When interest is accounted for, the district’s total debt load is greater than $1 billion, equating to more than $20,000 of debt owed for each and every student. And, of course, that’s a shrinking pool.
Source: Texas Bond Review Board’s searchable database for local governments
According to the Texas Comptroller’s Debt-at-a-Glance website, between the 2004-05 and 2013-14 school years, SAISD’s student population shrank by 4.9 percent. That’s a far cry from the statewide average in which the typical school district grew by 14.6 percent.
Source: Texas Comptroller’s Debt-at-a-Glance
It’s hard to see how, given these facts and circumstances, the SAISD Board can justify sending voters a massive $450 million bond package in November and expect a positive result.