Voters to Decide School Bond Election

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Alvin Independent School District (AISD) Superintendent Dr. Fred Brent addressed members of the Alvin-Manvel Chamber of Commerce last week at their monthly networking luncheon. The primary focus of the presentation was an explanation of the bond referendum that was authorized by the district’s Board of Trustees at a specially convened meeting in August.

On Tuesday, November 5, voters will decide the $212,445,000 bond referendum. An additional $40,155,000 will be contributed from previously approved bond funds, district cash reserves, and the current budget. Total spending upon completion will be $252,600,000, as determined by a Citizens Committee that considered current facilities, educational program needs, campus safety, the rapid growth of the district, and community survey data. The committee comprised a diverse mixture of tax payers, parents, teachers, and administrators. Eight committee meetings were held with numerous sub-committee meetings between December 2012 and June 2013.

Based on an enrollment forecast and projections report prepared by the Templeton Demographics firm, AISD’s growth for the period 2007 through 2012 averaged 4.3% or 712 students each year for a total increase of 3,560 students.  Between 2012 and 2017, AISD is projecting a total increase in student enrollment of 4,455 students, or an average increase of 891 students each year. If the projections prove to be correct AISD will see a total enrollment of more than 23,000 students by the start of the 2017 school year.

Brent described the revenue sources of the district, explaining that AISD draws on two funds to conduct its task of public education. The M&O (maintenance and operations) fund is used to pay the regular costs of school operations only, including items such as teacher pay, administrative costs, utilities, and the like.  District payroll and benefit costs accounts for more than 80% of its nearly $160 million annual budget. By law, the district must fund their operations from local taxes at a rate not to exceed $1.04 per $100 valuation. The district receives approximately 30% of its total annual operating funds from local property taxes with the balance coming primarily from the state and to a lesser extent the federal government.

The I&S (interest and sinking) fund is used to pay for non-operating items, such as school construction, capital improvements, buses, and technology. I&S funds must be approved by a majority vote of district taxpayers. Bond funds are in the I&S category. The district can accumulate however large an I&S fund its taxpayers care to endure. AISD’s current I&S tax rate is $0.28 per $100 valuation, ranking it the second lowest among area school districts. The combined tax rate is $1.3291.  Brent said passing the bond would necessitate a tax increase on its citizens in order to service the bond debt. AISD administrators anticipate an increase of 11.39 cents per $100 valuation, which would be an annual rise of $134.64 on the average AISD home value of $118,222. Seniors over 64 should see no tax impact with appropriate exemptions.

A large portion of the bond proceeds, $104.5 million, will fund a new high school in Shadow Creek Ranch just west of the Pearland Town Center. With Manvel High School already above capacity, the district will expedite this project for the 2016-2017 school year. The school will accommodate 2,500 students and its completion would provide relief for Manvel’s enrollment burden and help mitigate traffic concerns as those students in the north western part of the district would no longer need to commute to the school. Other high school related projects include $1.2 million for the design and related costs of a new career and technical education facility that likely would occupy the site of the old Manvel Junior High; $4.5 million for a new Ag facility providing a district show arena; and $8.6 million for land, design, and related costs for a district athletic stadium, natatorium, and satellite transportation facility.

Junior high allocations include $35.2 million for a new campus to be constructed on 115 acres just north of Manvel High School. AISD is already in the planning stages of that project and it is expected that the new school would be ready for students beginning the 2015-2016 school year. Other junior high projects include $21.1 million for the renovation and expansion of Alvin Junior High, and $4 million for related costs and land for a future junior high facility. Elementary allocations include $21.5 million for a replacement of Longfellow in Alvin; $22.9 million for a future elementary, its site not yet acquired; and $5.1 million for land, design, and related costs for still two more elementary schools.

Other items to be funded from bond proceeds include $3.1 million for campus safety and security projects; $5 million for additional school buses; $8.4 million for technology, including infrastructure upgrades and new equipment; and $5.5 million for Building system upgrades and other facility improvements.

Detailed information about the bond election is available on the AISD website (www.alvinisd.net). The registration deadline in order to vote in the election is October 7. Early voting will begin on October 21 and run through November 1. The general election will be held on Tuesday, November 5.

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