What should you know about Central Texas schools this election season?
In a word: Bonds.
Bond packages can be convoluted, making them easily misunderstood or overlooked. But bond elections have become an important source of income for area school districts as funds elsewhere shrink.
Austin ISD is not holding a bond election this spring, but many area districts are.
With area districts like Hays CISD experiencing record growth, districts are relying on bonds to keep pace with rising populations. But that strategy can prove controversial: in Leander ISD, there's a high debt-to-student ratio. And Hays CISD is quickly approaching its maximum bonding capacity, meaning it will soon need to rely on other revenue streams in order to keep up with growth. Hays CISD Board President Willie Tenorio says he expects a growing tax-base from new businesses to help fund future growth.
Bond elections are scheduled for May 10. KUT has broken down the basics of each proposal for area school districts below.
Round Rock ISD:
- Asking voters to approve up to $299 million
- Tax rate is expected to increase $3.55/mo. based on the average home value in Round Rock, if all propositions are approved.
- Prop 1: $234.2 for a new middle school, planning for a new high school, safety improvements, infrastructure updates and technology upgrades.
- Prop 2: $25.9 million to expand technology access.
- Prop 3: $38.9 million for the construction of new fine arts facilities.
Correction: A previous version of this article provided bond propositions recommended by the Round Rock Citizens Bond Advisory Committee. It has been changed to reflect the accurate amounts voters will be asked to approve in May.
- Asking voters to approve $287 million
- No tax increase is expected
- The funds would cover the construction of a new high school and elementary school, the construction of a replacement elementary school, land acquisition, renovations to existing schools, and improvements to safety and security.
- Asking voters to approve $89.5 million in bonds
- Tax rate would increase from $.1725 to $.1975, if approved.
- Bond funds would be used to expand school facilities, build a replacement elementary school, and improve district technology.
- Asking voters to approve $63.9 million
- Would increase the tax rate by 32.5 cents if approved.
- Funds would be used to renovate the stadium and high school, and to construct a new elementary school.
- Asking voters to approve $59.1 million
- Tax rate would increase from 42.13 cents to 49.5 cents, if approved.
- The funds would be used to accommodate a rising student population with the construction of a new middle school. Other projects would include security upgrades, improvements to the technology infrastructure, the purchase of new buses, and the expansion of Career Technical Education programs.
Marble Falls ISD:
- Asking voters to approve $6.5 million (a proposal that was rejected by voters last November)
- The tax-rate is not expected to increase
- The funds would go to career and technology programs, technology updates, the purchase of middle school band instruments, drainage repairs at high school sports facilities, and district maintenance.
Dripping Springs ISD:
- Asking voters to approve $92.4 million
- If approved, there will be a tax increase of $.05
- The money would be used to build a new elementary and middle school, a new stadium, fund maintenance and renovations at some schools, build a new baseball/softball complex, add a public access road connecting the high school to 290, fund technology renovations, and expand high school field house/locker room facilities.
- Asking voters to approve $124.9 million
- There will be no increase to the current tax-rate of $1.515
- The District's Community Bond Planning Committee has recommended a series of bond elections for the next five years. If approved, this first set of bonds would fund renovations to the high school, the construction of a new middle and elementary school, the design and planning for another elementary school, land acquisition, and new school buses.