Anticipating growing facility needs, the Round Rock ISD board is pursuing a bond election for November 2013 that could include construction of a new middle school and a second performing arts center.
Board members were in consensus at a Sept. 11 facilities workshop to put a bond election on the November 2013 ballot instead of the May 2013 ballot as long as the district has the design work ready for a new middle school before the bond package goes before voters.
“If we can design the middle school and get it going, have it in hand, we could bid it right after the first of 2014," said Alan Albers, executive director of operations and maintenance. “That helps us ensure opening in 2015.”
In a projected $200 million bond election, the increase to the debt service portion of the tax rate would be about 3 cents, occurring in the second year of the bond, should voters approve it, from 34 cents to 37 cents per $100 assessed value. The rate would decrease after that. The effect on an average home value of $195,856 that increases in value 1.5 percent to 2 percent per year would be $40 in year one, $118 in year two and $42 in the third year, according to data provided at the Sept. 11 workshop.
To have the bond election on the November 2013 ballot, the district must call the election by Aug. 26, 2013. In January, the district will start looking for volunteers to serve on the bond election committee. That committee would meet in late February through May and announce the bond package in June before the end of the district's fiscal year June 30.
Albers said the district has more than 600 project needs on the list for consideration. Using remaining dollars in the fund balance helped remove completing Phase 3 at Round Rock High School and building Success High School from the list.
Trustee Glen Colby said he would like to see the committee have guidance on what to include in the bond package so that the list is more succinct.
Top needs include building the 34th elementary school and a second performing arts center to help alleviate use at the main center, located near McNeil High School.
“The one we have right now is fabulous,” Fine Arts Director Jim Van Zandt said. “It's very successful. It's like a city, but it ain't big enough. We outgrew it the day it was built.”
He said a new center would need about 700 seats to accommodate the number of concerts the district hosts. That would open up space at the main center for larger community events the district often has to turn down, Van Zandt said.
Trustee Terri Romere said she would be in favor of including the purchase and support of implementing Superintendent Jesus Chavez's idea for a tablet or laptop pilot program. Ninth-grade students at Round Rock and McNeil high schools would receive a tablet or laptop for use at school and to take home.
“That seems to be where everything is moving to,” Romere said.
Voters approved a $267.7 million bond in 2006 and $293.9 million bond in 2008. Only a few projects remain left, including construction of the new transportation building. Albers said the district would be able to pursue a second bond election in 2015 or 2016 for about $245 million that would enable the district to build a sixth high school and complete the final phase of construction at Round Rock High School.