School board discusses finance, bus routes in work session

Marcus High School welcomed new principal Will Skelton, who was appointed April 9. Skelton had been principal of the ninth grade campus since the school's opening in 2014. (Photo by Leopold Knopp)

The Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees received its monthly budget update Monday night at the Bolin Administrative Center.

The board was mostly briefed on routine items, which included hiring architects and setting maximum prices for upcoming construction projects related to last year’s $737.5 million bond and two items related to food service — potentially renewing the contract for current provider, Aramark Educational Services, and the potential price increase next year as discussed in last month’s regular meeting. The renewal of Aramark’s contract is expected to be an action item at the next regular meeting April 16.

Readers can find a full list of proposed architects and prices on bond projects in the board’s background material in subheads “e” and “g” under the financial report. The final prices include three projects left over from the 2008 bond package.

Most of the discussion in the meeting centered around two earlier items — the proposal to refinance bonds issued in 2009 and 2010 based on a favorable interest rate and the update on hazardous bus routes.

The discussion item involved the district retire more than $20 million in bonds early, using $10 million from the debt service fund and issuing $8.9 million more in 2018 bonds at a lower interest rate. The transaction would provide an estimated $1.9 million in net savings over the course of the new bond. The move is based on favorable current market rates.

“We’re at a bird in the hand. That’s what we’re trying to take here,” procurement and contracts executive director Craig Martin said.

The board also heard proposals to no longer consider several areas hazardous for students to walk. In Texas, students who live less than two miles away from their school are not eligible for transportation, unless their area is considered hazardous to walk. The state education code also outlines a point system to describe what areas are considered hazardous — if an area has 500 points or more, students will be afforded short bus trips. LISD discussed four areas that are no longer deemed hazardous by this point system, with scores ranging between 460 and 495. The affected areas are outlined in the background material.

Board member Jenny Proznik was livid at the idea of the Heritage Lakes area, just south of Lebanon Road in Frisco, being deemed not hazardous.

“I can also tell you from living in that area there is a great deal of erosion on that hill on the south side of Lebanon, and when that erosion comes, they block off the sidewalk, and it happens four months out of the year. That hill’s been rebuilt since I’ve lived in that area five times,” she said. “You characterize these as walk paths that are within communities, and that is not a walk path that is within a community. That is a walk path that is along a four-lane 45 mph speed limit.”

The board had several more questions about the presentation, and action was delayed until May.

Earlier in the meeting, the board discussed its policy on naming facilities moving forward. Superintendent Kevin Rogers spoke about potentially renaming the Bolin Administrative Center in the near future, and will also name two new elementary schools provided by the 2017 bond.  

The naming policies outline the circumstances around which a facility can be named after a person, and much of the discussion centered on whether or not they should allow facilities to be named after a living person. The current policy allows for people older than 80 to have buildings named after them if they are still alive.

Board member Tracy Scott Miller argued against the merit of naming buildings after people at all.

“It’s when we get into the name of the individual that controversy starts to center,” Miller said. “To the extent that we can identify buildings that we’re just going to call it something functional, I don’t even know if we need to … create a committee.”

The board will take action on several of these items at its regular meeting April 16.