Bond 2017 Frequently Asked Questions
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Why does the district believe a bond is necessary in 2017?
What is a bond?
How much is the proposed 2017 bond?
What happens if the bond projects don't cost as much as predicted?
When & where is voting for the bond?
Tax Rate Questions:
How does a bond affect my tax rate?
Will a 2017 bond increase my tax rate?
Since the bond doesn't require a tax rate increase; if it does not pass, will the tax rate go down?
How much debt does the district owe on previous bonds and how does it pay for the debt?
Construction & New School Questions:
What is the cost per square foot of the proposed schools?
How does the proposed Hays CISD new school cost compare with others?
Why do we need new elementary schools now when projections say we have room until 2020?
Wasn't there an old land fill on or near the proposed site for the new Buda Elementary?
If Buda Elementary is replaced, what happens to the current campus?
Who picked the location of the proposed third high school?
How does a bond affect school attendance zones?
Miscellaneous & Project Specific Questions:
Student enrollment growth continues in Hays CISD.
Proposition 1 would address the capacity of the district by adding additional campuses. The district's current high school student enrollment of 5,454 in the 2016-2017 school year exceeds the functional capacity of the district's high schools, which is 4,600 (including Hays High School, Lehman High School, and Live Oak Academy). Current elementary enrollment of 9,273 in 2016-2017 is projected to exceed the district's elementary school capacity of 9,766 by August 2020.
Proposition 2 addresses capacity, maintenance and upgrades, and student program equity and expansion. The transportation and technology items, for example, would increase the district's infrastructure capacity to address expected student enrollment growth. Other items include maintenance and upgrades on existing facilities. Proposition two also would expand student program opportunities and create equity between the district's conprehensive high schools.
A school building bond is a way for school districts to pay for capital expenditures. A majority of voters in a school district must approve the issuance of school building bonds to pay for these expenditures.
Capital expenditures funded through the issuance of school building bonds can be used for:
- Buildings and land
- Computers and technology
- School buses and infrastructure
- Classroom and campus equipment
- Security systems
- Energy conservation
View the presentation from the district's bond counsel entitled, "Overview of the Muncipal Bond Market and Bond Capacity."
The total amount of the proposed bond is $250,000,000 broken into two propositions.
Proposition one includes the proposed new schools (a high school and two elementary school campuses) and is $189,850,000.
Proposition two includes all other items, primarily: expansion and equity of student programs, maintenance, a proposed new transportation facility, and increased capacity of technology infrastructure. Proposition two is $60,150,000.
See the entire list of projects in the Bond 2017 interactive brochure online.
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The Board of Trustees has already directed that all savings associated with the 2017 bond would be returned to taxpayers by using the funds to pay down bond debt.
In proposition one, savings from each construction project would be returned independent of the other projects in this proposition. In proposition two, any savings realized would be calculated in total, once all projects in the proposition are completed. The total savings for proposition two would also be returned to taxpayers.
Here is the language to which the Board has committed:
Any bond savings realized from a reduced cost of the new school construction projects will be used to pay down existing debt, which returns the money to the taxpayers. Further, upon completion of all other projects, the total savings will also be used to pay down existing debt.
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The district’s total tax rate is divided into two parts - the Maintenance & Operations (M&O) rate and an Interest & Sinking (I&S) rate. The M&O rate is accounted for in the general fund and is used for annual school district operations such as teacher payroll, fuel, electricity, and classroom supplies. The I&S tax rate is used solely to pay for voter-approved debt payments, which are the school building bonds.
Currently, Hays CISD has a tax rate of $1.5377 per $100 of taxable property value, which includes a rate of $1.04 for M&O and $.4977 for I&S.
Because of increased bond financial capacity in Hays CISD, voter approval of either one or both of the bond measures would not require the school board to change or increase the current tax rate. No tax rate change is proposed or required for this bond.
Note that actual taxes paid depend on the appraised value of taxable property. An increase or decrease in taxable property value, even with no change in the tax rate, would result in an increase or decrease in the actual amount of taxes paid. The Hays CISD Board of Trustees sets the tax rate for the district annually.
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The Board of Trustees sets the tax rate annually. The administration is not currently recommending a tax rate change whether or not the bond passes. If the bond does not pass, keeping the tax rate the same would allow the district to continue to pay down existing dept. This would help build additional bond capacity for potential future bond initiatives that would be necessary to address student enrollment growth and facility maintenance.
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As of September 1, 2016, the district’s outstanding debt principal was $296,520,000. The interest payable was $136,073,990.
The school district tax rate is divided into two parts: the maintenance and operation portion (M&O) and the interest and sinking portion (I&S). The I&S portion of the tax rate generates revenue to pay for bonds. The M&O portion of the tax rate is used for annual operating expenses.
The district generates revenue to pay debt based on applying the tax rate set by the Board of Trustees to the taxable value of property in the district. For tax year 2016, the freeze adjusted tax assessment valuations, or taxable value of property in the district, was $5.578 billion. For tax year 2017, this same measure is projected to be $6.278 billion.
Hays CISD does not use capital appreciation bonds (CABS) to finance debt. For the 2014 issue, the district used 25-year traditional bonds. If approved by voters, the 2017 Hays CISD issue will also be 25-year traditional bonds.
View the district’s bond capacity numbers and projections. Bond capacity is the district’s ability to issue future bonds to pay for capital improvements and new schools. View the full Overview of the Municipal Bond Market and Bond Capacity presentation.
The bond election is the same day as the school board trustee election - Saturday, May 6, 2017.
Early voting starts April 24, 2017 and ends May 2, 2017. Early voting hours are weekdays 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with extended hours each Monday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Additionally, early voting at Buda Elementary will occur on Saturday, April 29, 2017, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. During early voting, registered voters may vote at either early voting location.
On election day, May 6, 2017, registered voters must vote at the polling location in their school board trustee single-member-districts.
The construction cost per square foot of each of the schools is estimated to be $250, which includes site work, road improvements and utilities. The price reflects inflation and is projected based on when contracts would be let, should the new schools be approved by voters in this bond proposition. The Board of Trustees has dedicated that any savings from the school construction realized through a competitive bidding process would be returned to tax payers by paying down existing school district bond debt.
The total school price in the Hays CISD 2017 proposed bond for each school is all inclusive, which means the price not only includes building construction and site work, but also furniture, fixtures, and equipment. The prices include everything needed to open the doors of the schools. (Note that operating the schools does not come from bond money. That is funded out of the district’s general operations budget).
Comparing cost of schools from one district to another requires a careful analysis of information to ensure that the comparison is using the same information. For example, one project may include site work in the cost per square foot, while another may not. There are many variables in determining cost per square foot of a new school.
The Hays CISD total project costs reflected in the 2017 proposed bond include everything necessary to open fully furnished and equipped, ready-to-operate schools. Additionally, the budgeted prices in the bond reflect the best estimate of cost for the new schools and facilities. Any savings realized through a competitive bidding process has been dedicated by the Board of Trustees to be returned to the taxpayers by paying down existing Hays CISD bond debt.
Here is some information from the Hays CISD architect firm Stantec regarding cost per square foot in general and specific to Hays CISD:
Ideally, Hays CISD would build all schools in advance of any campus experiencing overcrowding. This is not always possible. In fact, the district's current high school student enrollment of 5,454 in the 2016-2017 school year already exceeds the functional capacity of the district's high schools, which is 4,600 (including Hays High School, Lehman High School, and Live Oak Academy).
While not ideal, secondary campuses can better handle larger student populations compared with elementary schools. Elementary schools, with their younger student populiations, face greater challenges and are governed by legal class size requirements that limit flexiblity in operating over capacity.
Current total elementary student enrollment of 9,273 in 2016-2017 is projected to exceed the district's total elementary school capacity of 9,766 by August 2020. Some individual campuses are already over capcity. If voters approve the two new elementary campuses in the 2017 bond, one (elementary school #14 - located on High Road) would be ready to open for the 2018-2019 school year. The second (elelementary school #15 - Buda Elementary replacement) would be open for it's first full school year in 2019-2020, just ahead of the year current demographic projections predict Hays CISD elementary school student growth would exceed current capacity.
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The Growth Impact Committee that makes bond recommendations to the Board of Trustees does not make decisions or recommendations about school attendance zones. A key Growth Impact Committee focus is ensuring there is enough total capacity in the district for the projected number of students who will attend Hays CISD schools. This is accomplished by recommending additional schools. Of course, if new schools are added, attendance zones will change.
Attendance zone changes are considered by a school board appointed attendance zone committee, usually much closer to the opening of a new campus as opposed to the discussion about whether to include a new school in a bond. This allows the most up-to-date student enrollment projections to be considered.
Attendance zone changes and the committee process are discussed in Board Policy FC (Local). When considering attendance zone changes, the Board, according to policy, considers: maintaining the neighborhood school concept; preventing, reducing, and eliminating overcrowding; allowing for future growth; keeping distances traveled by students as short as possible; minimizing the need for student transportation; and allowing campuses to house students safely while providing adequate services to all students.
Following a substantial community engagement process, on March 28, 2016, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve the northwest location for high school #3 on RR 967 (just east of Carpenter Hill Elementary School) as the site for the district's third high school (contingent upon voters approving a bond measure to fund its construction).
The site selection committee initially narrowed the choice from the four pieces of district-owned property to two - one northwest location and one northeast location in Travis County. Then, comparing the two sites, the committee made a recommendation decision based on a criteria score sheet created by the committee. The recommendation decision followed serveral months worth of committee meetings and three public forums.
The decision was not easy and no site was perfect. The committee and the Board ultimately chose the best option at this time. If gorwth continues, it is likely that all four site currntly owned by the district will eventually become high schools, provided voters approve the necessary bonds to construct the high schools.
Hays CISD conducts environmental studies on all of the properties it is considering purchasing to ensure they are safe and would present no future problems for use as sites for schools.
Hays CISD conducted a detailed environmental study on the land proposed as the site for the new Buda Elementary School. That study included "an invasive field investigation" regarding a former rock quarry/landfill located on the northeast corner of the property. The study dug 18 test pits and "estimated that less than five percent of the materials excavated from the pits were comprised of non-native materials and these materials likely represented contractors' construction debris that were disposed as part of the backfilling operation." The study "concluded that the former quarry landfill does not represent a REC [recognized environmental condition] with respect to releases of chemicals of concern to the backfill soils/sediments, underlying sediments/bedrock, or to groundwater."
UPDATE: In response to community concerns about this issue, the district commissioned a phase II environmental study at the site in 2017. It concluded:
"None of the samples analyzed indicated any level of contamination of concern for health effects as compared to minimum regulatory levels for residential soils (TRRP-PCLs). All detected levels of metals (Arsenic, Barium, Chromium, and Lead) were at or below the naturally occurring median levels (TSSBC) of those metals in Texas soils. Therefore, it is our opinion that the soils on the subject site do not contain contamination of concern for health effects to construction workers during construction or students and faculty utilizing the future school facilities."
Hays CISD recognizes, appreciates, and celebrates the tremendous historical value of the Buda School, which is the current home of Buda Elementary. If a new campus, one that is better equipped to accommodate future-ready learning, is approved by voters; the district is committed to preserving the most historic portions of the Buda School, including the Kunkel Room. The district will engage the community to determine what future programming and purpose the building would serve. The lower campus at Buda Elementary, which is not part of the historic, original Buda School, would be demolished because it sits in a flood plain and has flooded twice since October 2013.
The baseball and softball facilities need to be replaced for safety and equity reasons. Both facilities are aging. The softball complex is also located closer to Barton Middle School than Hays High School.
The second to the last slide of the Libraries Presentation cost estimate worksheet shows 17 campuses scheduled to receive approximately $36,000 each and Elem Grove Elementary to receive $10,000. The 17 campuses include 12 of the district’s 13 elementary schools (less Elm Grove) and 5 of the district’s six middle schools (less McCormick).
This does not mean Elm Grove and McCormick will receive less money for their programs. Rather, Elm Grove and McCormick are scheduled to be the first campuses to receive library funds out of current district money (regardless of the outcome of the bond election) in order to serve as test sites for library and furniture and equipment for potential district-wide adoption. Should the bond pass, that funding would be used to bring all other campuses to the same standards established at Elm Grove and McCormick.
Hays CISD is committed to providing equal and engaging opportunities at all campuses.