The Goose Creek school board has accepted the Citizens Bond Planning Committee’s recommendation to call for a $335 million bond election this May.
Some of the items on the proposed bond include a $59 million sixth junior school, a $26 million 17th elementary school and a $28 million replacement for San Jacinto Elementary.
The board, however, did not officially call for a bond election. Instead, for now, the board has accepted the recommendation to call one. The vote was unanimous with Trustee Agustin Loredo III absent.
Goose Creek CISD spokeswoman Beth Dombrowa said all indications point to the board calling for a bond election in February.
“The Citizens Bond Planning Committee did an outstanding job deliberating projects and putting together a bond package that will meet many of the district’s most pressing needs,” Dombrowa said. “Collectively, they volunteered more than 1,100 hours and followed a process that resulted in every project in the package receiving at least 75 percent of the committee’s endorsement. We are deeply grateful for their time and due diligence and, of course, their strong interest in the success of our students.”
The board has until Feb. 15 to call for a bond election on the May ballot.
Members of the citizens bond panel presented the $335 million proposal prior to the board vote. The presenting members are Mike Wilson, Marisa Tong, Thomas Parent and Brian Miller. The 42-member committee was made up of community members, parents, teachers and business owners.
Wilson said the panel represented a cross-section of the district.
“This had collaborative community involvement, and we are proud of this,” Wilson said. “I feel, and my partners feel, this was representative of the community. The voters, as well as the board, should be confident it was a representative group, one that represented you.”
The district hired Michelle Hughes, an executive facilitator at TransCend, to facilitate the committee to come up with the new proposal in the wake of the failed $437.5 million bond voters rejected last May.
The CPBC members toured Goose Creek CISD facilities, reviewed demographic projections, received information on school finance, examined current program offerings and needs, including safety and security, and Goose Creek CISD’s technology plan.
“The committee’s charge was to become informed of current Goose Creek CISD needs and goals and design a bond referendum proposal that supports district goals, meets student needs, and I want to emphasize needs not wants or wishes,” Wilson said. “It also reflects good stewardship, and can be supported by the Goose Creek community.”
The committee met nine times. Projects were placed into priorities with the top priority being titled “Immediate Need,” and second priorities being called “Potentially Critical.” Lesser prioritized items were labeled as “Necessary, Not Yet Critical.”
The total of the projects identified as priority is $514,661,002.
“We ended up with 57 decision projects,” Wilson said. “These projects were reviewed time and again, and we picked the ones we felt needed to be in the bond. We came up with one package.”
Miller said roughly 80 percent of this bond is earmarked for construction and renovation.
Parent explained the tax impact of the proposed bond.
“We recommend the board call a bond election in the amount of $335,725,000, which takes into consideration that bonds are sold in increments of $5,000,” Parent said.
The proposed bond would introduce an 11.5 cents tax increase in the district tax rate, Parent said.
“It would be $1,547 in taxes due for a taxpayer with a $100,000 home in taxable value, or roughly 32 cents per day,” Parent said. “Under the proposed structure of this bond, $72 million will be allocated for technology, buses and equipment, fine arts, and paid off in an average life of less than six years”
Parent said if the bonds sold over three years in dollar amounts, the figures would be $109,720,000 in 2019, $111,435,000 in 2020 and $114,570,000 in 2021 for a total of $335,725,000.
“Both the district and committee listened to the community when making a decision about this bond package,” Wilson said. “Because of the feedback and community input, there are large difference between the 2018 bond and our current recommendation. What we are recommending is a smaller package with no multipurpose center. And the (Interest and Sinking) rate is self-sustaining. This course the proposed I&S tax rate is sufficient to pay for existing and new bond debt payments without further contributions from the general fund. And $72 million in bond projects - primarily technology, security, fine arts and equipment and buses - will have short-term-life item financing.”
Wilson said the committee also recommends more funding for renovations and replacements and less funding for new construction, athletics, safety security and technology. Wilson added the committee does not recommend the reimbursements of resolutions that have been passed previously.
“We hope each of you will support our committee’s’ work,” Wilson said. “We worked hard and diligent to put forth this recommendation as we presented it to you.”