Saturday , 22 October 2016

Frisco ISD Trustees Place $775 Million Bond Package on May 10 Ballot

frisco_isdThe Frisco ISD Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday to put a $775 million bond package on the May 10th ballot. View the February Board presentation.

Voters will be asked to approve funds to meet the needs of 66,000 students – a number the District is projected to reach by 2020.

The plan was developed by a committee of 27 parents and community members and includes funding for the following:

School/Instructional Facilities
$665.7 million or 85.9 percent, including 1.5 percent contingency

  • 14 new schools including eight elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools, as well as everything needed to open these schools to students.
  • School additions including expansions at the Career and Technical Education Center and Lone Star High School, a fine arts addition at Centennial High School and additional parking and new access at Spears Elementary.
  • Land purchases including four elementary sites, three middle school sites and three high school sites in key areas of the District.

Instructional and Student Support Services
$103.2 million or 13.3 percent

  • Technology funds would update campus instructional technology hardware every five years, upgrade district-wide infrastructure such as the wide area network, fiber and wireless capability and provide for other emerging needs and new technologies.
  • Maintenance/Renovations funds would 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 upgrades, replacements and repairs related to health, safety and instructional needs, along with vehicles and equipment for the custodial and maintenance departments, and upgrades to irrigation controls which result in efficiency and savings as technology improves.
  • Transportation funds would provide for buses to meet the needs of additional routes as the District adds more schools and 14,000 new students.
  • Construction/Demographics funds would provide for personnel to manage construction projects and to pay for external demographic studies, both key elements in effective planning and opening schools on time, on or under budget.
  • Security funds would replace and upgrade surveillance cameras and servers as they wear out and provide for new security devices and programs as they emerge.
  • Energy Management funds would convert old lighting systems to newer standards, which results in energy cost savings and rebates.

Special Programs/Support Facilities Renovations
$6.1 million or 0.8 percent

  • Memorial Stadium would be upgraded to give the District three quality stadiums to serve 11 high schools. The plan includes new seating, adding a lane to the track and more concession, restroom, parking and dressing room space. Without adding an eighth lane to the track, FISD cannot host District meets.
  • R.L. Barrow Transportation Facility would receive an addition and renovation.
  • FISD Natatorium would receive additional storage to address code issues.
  • FISD Transportation West would receive additional parking to accommodate more buses.

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.

If the 2014 bond program passed, the owner of the average FISD home, valued at about $270,000, could pay an extra $17 a month in taxes.

That’s if the District’s debt service tax rate increased eight cents over the life of the bonds from 42 cents to the maximum of 50 cents per $100 of taxable property valuation. This rate is dependent on assessed property values and how fast Frisco ISD would need to sell the bonds, based on growth.

“The District’s debt service tax rate has stayed at 42 cents for the last three years, even though we’ve sold $100 million annually in bonds during that time,” said Richard Wilkinson, FISD Deputy Superintendent of Business Services. “Our hope would be that the 2014 bond program would result in a gradual rate increase over time and that it wouldn’t reach that 50 cent maximum, but that certainly could happen.”

On a percentage basis, no school district in the country has grown faster in the last twenty years.

In 1998, FISD had seven schools. Today, the District serves more than 46,000 students in 56 schools, with seven more campuses opening in the next two years.

With the addition of Hosp, McSpedden, Newman and Scott elementary schools and Independence High School this fall, and Trent Middle School and Reedy High School in 2015, all remaining funds left under the 2006 bond program will be expended, taking the District to 52,000 students as anticipated.

But the growth continues. Frisco ISD is currently home to five of the top 10 fastest growing neighborhoods in the Metroplex and is projected to add nearly 20,000 students in the next six years, or an average of 2,800 students annually.

“We’ve been incredibly lucky here that we have a community that understands not only the need for bonds, but the end pay off with the bonds, that that is going to allow us to be able to build smaller schools,” said Frisco ISD School Board President Renée Ehmke. “This community said years ago, we want a smaller school structure, we think it’s important for students’ academic, emotional and social success, and we’re willing to back that up with our money.”

Story submitted by Meghan Youker, Frisco ISD

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