October 10, 2021

 

 

Proposition A

GISD voters to decide $381 million school bond election 

 

Bonds could address growth, technology, renovations, and swim center construction

GISD School Bond Information

October 13, 6 p.m. 
Carver Elementary School 
4901 Scenic Lake Dr.

October 19, 6 p.m.
Virtual presentation
georgetownisdbond.org/resources

For more information: www.georgetownisdbond.org

 

By KATHERINE ANTHONY

Georgetown ISD voters will decide the fate of five different bond propositions during the upcoming November 2 election. 

Early voting starts October 18.

Totaling $381.67 million, the 21-project bond package targets facility needs based on projected enrollment growth and expansion of programs. Projects will also upgrade technology services, renovate facilities; and — in a partnership with the YMCA of Williamson County — construct a new swim center.

The bond package was crafted by the district’s Citizens Advisory Council. The 75-member group studied GISD facility needs, and in August, GISD trustees approved the group’s proposal of projects for the ballot. 

Tax impact

GISD’s overall property tax rate has been reduced by 17.8 cents over the past three years — dropping the total tax rate from $1.409 in 2018 to its current rate of $1.231. This rate is lower than the neighboring school districts of Leander, Liberty Hill, Pflugerville, Hutto, and Taylor.

If bond issues are approved by GISD voters, district officials say the proposal’s property tax impact could range from a zero cent increase to an estimated 2.6 cents per $100 valuation, depending on the timing of the sale of bonds and property values in the district. They explained that bonds, if approved by voters, would be sold in increments over time as needed to fund projects.

Officials say a variety of factors contribute to Georgetown’s ability to issue bonds with an estimated maximum tax increase of 2.6 cents. 

• Growth and Developments: With rapid growth, GISD forecasts property values for new homes and developments. As property values increase, tax revenue is projected to increase which will help finance new bonds. 
• Paying down debt: GISD has a debt repayment plan with a 30-year maximum maturity on debt issued. Officials say they consider refinancing bonds when financially advantageous or beneficial. 
• Low interest rates: Based on current and projected market conditions, GISD says it can issue bonds at all-time low interest rates, making it less costly to finance new bonds.

GISD officials also point to the district’s high financial and credit ratings:
• An A (Superior Achievement) from the School Financial Integrity System of Texas (FIRST).
• An Aa1 rating from Moody’s,​​which reflects the district’s large and growing tax base and financial position.
• An Aaaa rating based on the Texas Permanent School Fund (PSF) for timely payment.

Proposition A

Proposition A is the largest of the five bond propositions — $333.42 million — because it includes construction of:
• Two new elementary schools.
• A new middle school to replace Benold Middle School. Benold would be remodeled and repurposed as Frost Elementary. The existing Frost building would be closed.
• A Future-Ready Learning complex for high school students in advanced career and technical programs, Richarte High School, the Bridges 18+ program, Early Learning Center and the GISD Health & Wellness Center.
• Agricultural barns at East View and Georgetown high schools.

Prop. A also includes: 
• Land acquisition where residential growth is projected to occur.
• Design services for future schools, including a third high school.
• Safety and security infrastructure/equipment upgrades.
• HVAC and roof upgrades and replacements.
• Purchases of older school buses and maintenance vehicles.
• Sun shades for elementary playgrounds.

Enrollment projections

Projected enrollment growth is driving GISD’s proposals to purchase land, design and build new schools.

According to its most recent annual demographic study, the district is anticipated to grow by 2,400 students over the next five years, and by nearly 6,000 students by 2031 — increases of 19 percent and 48 percent of its current enrollment, respectively. 

Elementary projections:
• By 2022-23, Mitchell Elementary School is projected to be nearing capacity.
• By 2023-24, Carver, Cooper, and Wolf Ranch elementaries are projected to be nearing capacity, and Mitchell Elementary is projected to be over capacity by 7 percent.
• By 2024-25, Carver, Mitchell, and Wolf Ranch elementary schools are projected to be over capacity by 5.3, 16.8 and 15.5 percent, respectively. 

Elementary schools No. 11 and No. 12 would be planned in the fast-growing southeast and southwest areas of the district to accommodate growth and increase capacities at existing campuses.

Secondary schools:
• By 2022-23, Wagner Middle School and East View High School are projected to be nearing capacity.
• By 2023-24, Wagner is projected to be over capacity by 6.7 percent.
• By 2025-26, East View is projected to be over capacity by 12.3 percent.
• By 2027-28, Benold Middle School is also projected to be near capacity.

Editor’s note: This story is the first in a series about the propositions included in Georgetown ISD’s November 2 bond election. This article provides an overview of the bond process, tax impact, and a look at Proposition A. Articles about other propositions will be found in future editions of the Sun. 

Citizens’ committee leads GISD’s bond campaign

By KATHERINE ANTHONY

Urging Georgetown voters to approve GISD’s bond propositions falls on the shoulders of the “Yes to Georgetown ISD” political action committee, a 15-member citizens’ volunteer group that can do what the school district cannot — promote passage of all five bond proposals that total $381.67 million.

Voters will decide on the issues in the November 2 election.

Texas law prohibits public school districts from campaigning for projects included in a bond election. A district’s role in communicating with their voters is solely to provide factual information about the projects, their costs, and property tax impact.

It’s up to a citizens’ committee to explain why a bond does or does not deserve voters’ support. For GISD’s November 2 bond election, Yes to Georgetown ISD has undertaken that mission.

“I feel strongly about this great community that I’ve known for 60 years,” said Dr. Michael Douglas, a member of Yes to Georgetown ISD, and a 1967 graduate of Southwestern University. “Education is a community’s pillar and that’s why I’m happy to work for this bond proposal.”

Members of Yes to Georgetown ISD have been presenting the bond to community groups and are sponsoring information sessions. The next two will be at 6 p.m. on October 13 at Carver Elementary School, and a virtual session on October 19. More information about these information sessions is available at www.georgetownisdbond.org/resources

Dr. Douglas and fellow Yes to Georgetown ISD member Jon Sloan recently shared with the Sun their commitment to the bond election’s success.

Dr. Douglas is ​​a Georgetown resident, a retired medical researcher, and executive director of the Texas Science Foundation, an organization that provides educational experiences for middle and high school students with the hope of sparking an interest in future STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers.

Mr. Sloan is a retired banker.

Both men cited Georgetown’s growth as a key reason to support all five bond propositions.

“The population growth here is exploding and we have to keep up if we don’t want kids in doublewides (portable classrooms),” Dr. Douglas said.

He noted projects included in Proposition A that would address growth — construction of two new elementary schools and a middle school to replace Benold Middle School; construction of a multi-building complex for advanced career & technical education (CTE) programs, Richarte High School, Bridges (program for 18+), early learning childcare center, and the district’s Health & Wellness Center.

“This CTE center is the centerpiece of Prop A,” Dr. Douglas said. 

Mr. Sloan is a board member of the Georgetown Family YMCA, and is particularly interested in the bond’s Proposition D, which would build a $23.6 million district swim center if approved by voters. 

GISD and the YMCA have signed a memorandum of understanding for the ‘Y’ to manage the center and offer its own family swim programs there. 

“The Y is really stepping up to handle pool management,” he said. “We foresee a facility that will be well-used year-round.”

Yes to Georgetown ISD is chaired by Scott Alarcón and Danny Meigs. The group’s treasurer is Gordon Logan, founder and CEO of SportClips.

In addition to Mr. Douglas and Mr. Sloan, its members are Bob and Paula Brent, Tim Carr, Wendy Cash, Mark Dietz, Natalie Fletcher, Ron Garland, Tiffany Hancher, David Hays, Cody Hirt, Cathleen Phelps, Victoria Russell, Joshua Schroeder, and Karron Wilson.