The bond proposal includes funding for new schools, facility additions, land purchases, technology, maintenance and renovations, special programs and other instructional and student support needs.
The FISD Board of Trustees will consider and act on the proposal, which may undergo changes, during its next meeting on February 10. Trustees are expected to call for an election in May 2014.
The citizens of FISD previously authorized the issuance of schoolhouse bonds through four referendums in an eight-year period (1998, 2000, 2003, 2006) for a combined total of $1.692 billion ($118 million, $298 million, $478 million and $798 million). These referendums received approval ratings of 95, 96, 89.4 percent, and 72 percent, indicating the strong support of the community for education and for meeting the needs of students.
The 2014 bond committee, which began meeting in September, reviewed current facilities and capacities, historical growth and projections, economic indicators and growth plans of the city, cost estimates and implications.
“The committee is comprised of stakeholders from throughout the District who want to see FISD continue to be the standard for school districts in the state and country,” said committee co-chair and former FISD board member Buddy Minett. “We support the overwhelming community opinion that schools should remain as small.”
Nearly 86 percent of $758 million proposal, or about $649 million, is for new schools and instructional facilities.
That includes funding for eight elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools, as well as land purchases, additions at the Career and Technical Education Center and Lone Star High School and special projects at Centennial High School and Spears Elementary.
The new schools are needed to accommodate growing student enrollment.
FISD schools now serve more than 46,300 students. Enrollment is expected to grow to 55,807 students in 2016 and 65,848 in 2020.
All remaining funds left under the 2006 bond program are committed and will be expended by 2015.
“The 2006 bond program is taking the District to 52,000 students as anticipated, but it took three years longer to reach that enrollment number than projected,” said Richard Wilkinson, FISD Deputy Superintendent of Business Services.
A total of $286 million from the 2006 bond program will go toward Independence High School and Hosp, McSpedden, Newman and Scott elementary schools, opening later this year, and Reedy High School and Trent Middle School, opening in fall 2015. Another $26 million will go toward instructional support needs.
Originally, monies were allocated for the addition of 10 elementary schools, six middle schools and three high schools. However, changes in growth trends toward the secondary level caused construction needs to shift, with four elementary schools being built, and the remaining funds going toward the eighth high school and five high school additions. In addition, the District was able to buy three more land sites than originally anticipated with project savings.
Now with FISD projected to enroll 52,673 students in 2015, the time has come for another bond program.
It takes six months to design a new elementary school (nine months for a new prototype) and 12 months to build, nine months to design a new middle school (12 months for a new prototype) and 18 months to build, and 12+ months to design a new high school and 24 months to build.
“The committee considered lesser and larger bond amounts to recommend to the Board, but felt the $758 million plan takes the District to a good place based on the amount of land under development and planned for development,” said bond committee co-chair and FISD parent Debbie Pasha. “To reduce the amount could create a situation where the District could not react to growth quickly enough.”
In addition to instructional facilities, the committee’s 2014 bond proposal includes:
- $40 million for technology, including funds to update campus instructional technology hardware (computers, projectors, etc.) every five years, as well as district-wide upgrades of infrastructure such as the wide area network, fiber, wireless capability and emerging needs such as phone, network and server upgrades and new technologies.
- $38 million for maintenance and renovations, including funds to convert existing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to geothermal when systems wear out and where it is feasible, resulting in energy savings over time. Also included are maintenance/replacement items at existing campuses, miscellaneous repairs related to health, safety and instructional needs and upgrades. In addition, vehicles and equipment needed for the custodial and maintenance departments are included, along with upgrades to irrigation controls which result in efficiency and savings as technology improves.
- $12 million for buses to meet the needs of additional routes as the District adds more schools and 14,000 new students.
- $7 million for the cost of personnel to manage construction projects and to pay for external demographic studies.
- $6.1 million for special programs and support facility renovations, including work at Memorial Stadium, R.L. Barrow Transportation Facility, FISD Natatorium and FISD Transportation West.
- $3.7 million for security, including the replacement of surveillance cameras and servers as they wear out and to upgrade to newer equipment as needed. Funding also allows for providing new security devices and programs as they emerge.
- $2.5 million for energy management as the District continues to convert old lighting systems to newer standards, which results in energy cost savings and rebates.
If the bond proposal passed, FISD residents could expect to see the District’s debt service tax rate increase a maximum of eight cents over the life of the bonds. The increase would not happen at once, but over several years as needed as the bonds are issued.
Currently, residents pay $1.46 per $100 of taxable property valuation, including $1.04 for maintenance and operations and 42 cents for debt services.
If the debt service rate increased one cent, the owner of the average FISD home, valued at $272,801, would pay an extra $2.15 a month.
That same homeowner would owe an extra $17 a month if the debt service rate increased eight cents to the maximum of 50 cents per $100 of taxable property valuation.
“FISD has a proven track record of being good stewards of taxpayer funds while delivering superior educational results,” Minett said. “Under the committee’s plan, smaller schools will continue to be the standard and tax rates should continue to be among the lowest of all fast-growth districts in the state.”
Story submitted by Meghan Youker, Frisco ISD