Superintendent's column: Learn more about VISD's 2017 Bond Proposal
By BY ROBERT JAKLICH
Aug. 12, 2017 at 3:12 p.m.
During the last two weeks, we have had much discussion regarding the 2017 Bond Proposal for the Victoria Independent School District that identifies $141.2 million of current needs to our school district.
We are extremely grateful to our community members that have provided us with their questions and have allowed us the opportunity to address their concerns.
This bond encompasses 30 total projects across all areas of the district that will improve facilities, enhance safety and security, update technology and communication infrastructures, increase community engagement and most importantly, maximize student learning opportunities.
I would like to take this opportunity to share some of the questions we have received and provide you with the appropriate, accurate responses.
How was the VISD bond package developed?
Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, VISD began assessing district facility needs and developing a long-range facilities plan with the assistance of the Texas Association of School Boards and Sledge Engineering.
The bond proposal takes into consideration our current Interest and Sinking (I&S) tax rate, past bond projects, the maintenance work that has been done across our school district to date, previous, present and future student enrollment counts, the availability to support future student growth, the age of the facilities we are currently recommending for upgrade and a comparison of whether to renovate or provide new construction with regard to our facility needs.
How can bond funds be used?
Bond funds can be used to pay for new buildings, additions and renovations to existing facilities, land acquisition, technology infrastructure and equipment for new or existing buildings and large-ticket items such as school buses.
Bonds cannot be used for salaries or operating costs such as payroll, utilities, supplies, fuel and insurance.
What is the breakdown of spending in the bond package?
The cost to provide improvements to our existing campuses is $64.475 million. The cost for improvements toward our new schools is $34.6 million. Districtwide communications and technology costs are $4 million, the Multi Activity Center (MAC) is $35 million and other communitywide projects are at a cost of $3.125 million for a total Bond Proposal of $141.2 million.
Why not renovate the current Memorial Stadium site instead of rebuilding for a new multi activity complex?
This option was discussed throughout the planning process.
The cost to build a brand new stadium and baseball/softball fields, which would include a track, new concession stands, restrooms, ticket booth(s), stadium lights, sound system, turf fields, and add as well as resurface existing parking lots is estimated at $35 million.
However, due to the age of the stadium (Memorial Stadium is 50 years old with concrete bleachers that are extremely costly to remove for the track and dressing room upgrades) and other costs related to the facilities and fields, the cost to renovate was found to be approximately $30.66 million.
With a $4.34 million difference between renovating Memorial Stadium at 50 years old compared to having an entirely new facility with a 50-year lifespan, it is much more cost-effective in the long run to build a new complex.
What is going to be the tax impact of the bond package on VISD taxpayers?
Local school district tax rates are made up of the following: the Maintenance and Operations tax rate (M&O), which funds the operating costs of running the school district, and the Interest and Sinking tax rate (I&S), which funds the debt service account (bond expenses). Currently, the Victoria ISD has an M&O tax rate of $1.04 and an I&S tax rate of $0.2263 for a total tax rate of $1.2663. In 2012, the Victoria ISD had an I&S tax rate of $0.2926. During the last five years, the VISD has been able to reduce the I&S tax rate by 5.6 cents. This was accomplished in part by refunding monies from Bond 1998 in November 2014 for a savings of $2.4 million and refunding bond 2007 in November 2016 for a savings of $23.5 million for a total savings of $25.9 million to our local taxpayers.
When comparing our current tax rate of $1.2663 to many of the surrounding school districts in the crossroads and school districts across the state with enrollment similar in size to VISD, our current tax rate is lower in a majority of these comparisons. It is also important to note that if we still incurred the I&S tax rate of 2012, the 2017 Bond Proposal would be an increase of 1.8 cents.
The 2017 Bond Proposal would increase the I&S tax rate 7.4 cents for every $100 of assessed property valuation. An example of how an increase of 7.4 cents to the I&S tax rate would affect our taxpayers can be found in the following example:
A homeowner with a home valued at $100,000 would have a projected yearly increase of $74.70. This would break down to a cost of $6.23 per month or $1.44 per week.
Taxpayers that are the age of 65 or older are eligible for the "Over 65 Homestead Exemption," which means there would be no tax increase on their residential property.
In the upcoming weeks, we will be hosting a series of public meetings across the school district, and we look forward to discussing the 2017 Bond Proposal with you. For further information or to view the 2017 Bond Proposal in its entirety in English or Spanish, we invite you to visit our website at visd.net.
Robert Jaklich is the superintendent for the Victoria Independent School District. Contact him at 361-788-9202 or through the VISD website, visd.com.