After more than 27 total hours of discussion, some last-second scheduling and just a little bit of music, the Facilities Advisory Committee has an official recommendation on which Lewisville ISD projects should be funded by a bonds which citizens could vote on May 6.
The FAC recommends 31 of the more than 40 proposed projects, with the total recommendations coming out to $737.5 million.
The list of recommendations can be read in full here — final-2017-bond-work-1-27-171
The bond would raise the I&S tax rate to somewhere between 44.09 cents and 44.84 cents, probably closer to the higher number. The I&S rate prior to 2016 had been 43.673 cents, but was reduced to 38 cents in 2016 because the district had refinanced some of the prior bonds issued, saving interest payments, and reducing the amount needed to cover those payments. This would cost $16 per month to the owner of the average LISD home, valued at $310,000 according to the district’s calculations.
Previous bond issues in 2005 and 2008 totaled $199.5 million and $697.7 million, respectively, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statisticts, this proposal is less expensive in inflation-adjusted dollars than the 2008 bond. The buying power of $697.7 million is the equivalent of $777.75 million in 2016 money.
The recommended projects include $205.7 million for building new facilities and $249.1 million for repairing existing facilities, $28.8 million for security improvements, $45.1 million allocated to athletics facilities and $38.2 million into fine arts. The rest goes into new technology for the schools.
Hearing the proposal, the board effusively praised the FAC, a committee comprised of almost 90 community members from all over the school district, which stretches from Flower Mound to parts of Plano.
“What you’ve recommended to this board will touch every single student in this district,” said superintendent Kevin Rogers. “All 53,000 students will benefit from these decisions for decades to come.”
The only individual line item costing more than $100 million was proposed renovations to elementary schools more than 20 years old, which total at $134.4 million. The next most expensive item were renovations to high schools totaling $74.6 million. After that was a $64.6 million proposition for a new Hedrick Middle School.
In its last meeting, the FAC discussed how to sell the bond package to the public with a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. Members said the proposal was well-thought-out, focusing on needs instead of wants. Of the recommended projects, two thirds are considered “priority one.” However, committee members foresaw trouble from an aging voter base, who may no longer have kids in school, and from parents at Hedrick Elementary, whose future is uncertain.
It and the attached middle school will both be knocked down, but only the middle school was recommended to be rebuilt. Several parents and employees at Hedrick Elementary have protested before the board, saying they would vote against the bond unless rebuilding their school was included in the proposal. Many were present at Thursday’s FAC meeting, which was not open for public comment.
Despite recommendations now being official, there’s still a lot that could change about the bond before it is presented to the public. The board has not yet officially discussed the bond, and will not until its Feb. 9 workshop meeting. The board will then make its official proposal Feb. 13, and the bond will go to a public vote in May. From there, the projects will be put into effect over a period of years.
“Things will change. Technology changes in five years. We want to maintain fidelity to whatever we ultimately agree on,” board vice president Tracy Scott Miller said. “Whether that be a smaller package or, God forbid, a bigger one.”
To read more of The Lewisville Texan Journal’s coverage of the plans for Hedrick Elementary and Middle Schools, visit ltjne.ws/hedrick online.