The bond proposition for a new elementary school and a new middle school on Sawyer Ranch Road,
a new multi-purpose stadium at the existing competition field behind Dripping Springs High School,
HVAC system and roof replacements at some schools, a baseball/softball complex at Dripping Springs High School, a public
access road connecting Dripping Springs High School to Highway 290, district-wide technology renovations and
other infrastructure improvements, and expansion of high school field house/locker room facilities was passed by
voters on May 10, 2014, with 58 percent of voters in favor of the bond.
Thank you for supporting Dripping Springs ISD!
New Elementary and New Middle School Campus: $55,700,000
• Based on enrollment projections, the number of elementary and middle school students in the district is expected to exceed the current capacity of existing facilities within the next two years.
• A new elementary school, to serve Grades PK-5, and a new middle school, to serve Grades 6-8, will be built on district-owned property at Sawyer Ranch Road.
• The two campuses will be built next to one another sharing support facilities, such as kitchen and mechanical equipment, to save operational and maintenance costs.
• The elementary school will be built to serve 850 students. The middle school core spaces, such as gymnasiums and cafeterias, will be built to a full capacity of 1,200 students, while classroom spaces will be built to an initial capacity of 850 students with the ability to add classrooms as the district grows.
Technology Upgrades: $3,550,405
• Enhancements to wireless internet capability and improvements to network operations will be made district-wide.
• Replacing end-of-life computers and mobile technology devices at each campus will allow teachers and students to use current technology-based instructional tools.
Maintenance Improvements: $4,049,595
• Repairs and renovations to HVAC systems and roofing at Walnut Springs Elementary School, Dripping Springs Middle School and Dripping Springs High School will lower operational costs and increase energy efficiency.
• A new public access road will be built to connect Dripping Springs High School to Highway 290, improving access to the high school site and athletic facilities.
Extracurricular and Athletic Facilities
Currently, Dripping Springs High School does not have an on-site competition stadium, baseball or softball fields. The district is proposing to construct new facilities at DSHS that will centralize events, keeping students on campus, eliminating transportation costs and promoting additional safety and security.
New Multi-Purpose Competition Stadium: $14,750,000
• A new multi-purpose stadium will be constructed at the high school’s existing competition field, incorporating the field and lights currently in place.
• The site will receive new bleachers, a press box, restrooms, concessions and site improvements.
• The facility will be used for school and community events and extracurricular activities.
• Additional parking will serve spectators at stadium events, as well as student, staff and visitor parking on campus during regular school hours.
New Baseball and Softball Complex: $3,800,000
• Currently, the district does not own baseball or softball fields and leases facilities from the City of Drippings Springs for practices and games.
• New fields, bleachers, concessions, restrooms and batting cages will be constructed at Dripping Springs High School.
Field House/Locker Room Improvements: $1,650,000
• Field house and locker room facilities will be expanded or constructed in order to accommodate the growing number of student participants.
Public school taxes involve two components: Maintenance and Operations (M&O), used to pay for salaries, utilities, furniture, supplies, food, gas, etc.; and Interest and Sinking (I&S), used to repay debt. Bond elections affect the I&S tax rate.
Currently, DSISD’s I&S tax rate, is $0.45. When combined with the district’s M&O tax rate of $1.04, the total tax rate for DSISD is $1.49 per $100 of certified property value.
If the bond election passes, the estimated maximum tax impact of this bond is anticipated to be a $0.05 increase to the I&S portion, resulting in a total tax rate of $1.54. For a home value of $100,000, this represents an increase of approximately $4.17 per month.
Residents Over 65
Under Texas state law, the dollar amount of school taxes imposed on the residence homestead of a person 65 years of age or older who has filed an exemption application, may not be increased above the amount paid in the first year after the person turned 65, regardless of changes in tax rate or property value. This excludes the value of any new improvements, such as additions or renovations that increase the value of such homestead.
Calculating Tax Impact
The chart below illustrates the estimated monthly tax increase to property owners in DSISD if the bond is approved at the May 10, 2014, election:
*Taxes are net of any homestead exemptions
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a bond?
A bond is similar to a home mortgage. It is a contract to repay borrowed money with an interest rate over time. Bonds are sold by a school district to competing lenders to raise funds to pay for the costs of construction, renovations and equipment. Most school districts in Texas utilize bonds to finance renovations and new facilities.
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 utility bills, supplies, building maintenance, fuel and insurance.
What is a bond election?
School districts are required by state law to ask voters for permission to sell bonds to investors in order to raise the capital dollars required to renovate existing buildings or build a new school. Essentially, it’s permission to take out a loan to build and renovate and pay that loan back over an extended period of time, much like a family takes out a mortgage loan for their home. A school board calls a bond election so voters can decide whether or not they want to pay for proposed facility projects.
When was the last bond package?
In 2007, Dripping Springs ISD passed a $96,170,000 million bond program that renovated and expanded the middle school and high school campuses as part of the “swap” that expanded student capacities at both campuses. In addition, 150 acres was purchased at the intersection of Darden Hill Road and Sawyer Ranch Road.
Exactly how much is the District asking for?
The Board of Trustees called a bond election in the amount of $92,410,000 million to be brought before voters on May 10, 2014.
Is the bond package all in one proposition?
Yes, all projects in the bond package will be listed as one proposition on the ballot for a total of $92,410,000. Click here to see what the wording will look like on the ballot. School-related ballot items typically are listed in the second half of the ballot.
Did the committee or the Board consider splitting the project into two propositions?
Yes, that possibility was discussed thoroughly by the Bond Steering Committee and also considered by the Board of Trustees. The Bond Steering Committee’s recommendation was that all the projects be grouped as one package, which the group felt had been carefully formulated to balance priorities in multiple areas. In addition, the telephone survey that was conducted in December addressed this option. Respondents indicated that they would prefer a single bond proposal and that the support level of facilities for instructional purposes and those serving extracurricular activities were relatively even.
How was the bond package developed?
The bond package is the result of a district planning process that involved a cross section of the community including local citizens, civic and business leaders, parents, and school and district staff. Throughout the fall, the Long-Range Facility Planning Committee evaluated the current state of district facilities, reviewed financial information and demographic data, and studied the capacity of DSISD facilities in relation to current and projected growth in student enrollment. The Bond Steering Committee then formed in December to take those findings, and consider project options and cost. Upon completion of the committee’s analysis, a recommendation was presented to the Board of Trustees.
After studying the Committee’s recommendations the DSISD Board of Trustees officially called a bond referendum at its February 24, 2014 meeting to put before voters on the May 10, 2014 ballot.
What does the proposed bond election address?
The bond package will provide space for current and future growth, and address aging and inefficient infrastructure. This includes, construction of new district facilities, improvements to existing facilities and district-wide technology upgrades.
Were all projects that were considered included in the bond package?
No. When the Long-Range Facility Planning Committee met throughout the fall of 2013, there were other projects identified by the group. In fact, the initial list of items totaled $133 million. Because that amount was higher than the district’s bonding capacity, the committee prioritized the projects before turning their findings over to the Bond Steering Committee. The Bond Steering Committee worked to develop a package in the $90 million range to present to the Board.
How is a determination made regarding the total amount a school district can include in a bond package?
Working with a financial advisor, the bond capacity is calculated based on current property values in the district, using the proposed tax rate. During DSISD’s planning process, future property values have been considered as well. Because the projects will be spaced out over a three-year span, the district will achieve the required $92,410,000 capacity by the time projects are implemented.
How is the District’s tax rate configured?
A school district’s tax rate is comprised of two components: the Maintenance & Operations tax (M&O) and the Interest & Sinking tax (I&S). The M&O rate is used to operate the school district, including salaries, utilities, furniture, supplies, food, gas, etc. The I&S rate is used to pay off school construction bonds. Bond sales only affect the I&S rate.
How will the proposed bond election affect my taxes?
If the bond election passes, the estimated maximum tax impact of this bond is anticipated to be $0.05 for a total tax rate of $1.54. For a taxable home value of $100,000, this represents an increase of approximately $4.17 per month.
How do I calculate my personal tax impact for the bond package?
To calculate your personal tax impact from the bond package, divide the taxable value of your property (less homestead exemptions) by 100. Then, multiply that number by .05 for the annual impact of the total bond proposal. You can also use the tax calculator on the Tax Information page to calculate your personal tax impact.
What if I am over 65 years old? Will my taxes go up if the bond is successful?
If you have applied for and received the Age 65 Freeze on your homestead, by law, your school taxes cannot be raised above their frozen level, unless new improvements are made, such as additions or renovations that increase the value of the home.
What if I am over 65 years old and receive the “Senior Citizen Exemption” and my home value goes up, will my taxes increase?
The appraised value can change and the tax rate will change, but the amount of school taxes on your homestead cannot increase. Normal repairs, maintenance and the economic impact of the market cannot increase the amount of taxes you will pay once a tax ceiling is in place on that homestead. Therefore, if this bond election is successful, it will not have an impact on the tax bill for homesteads that are receiving the senior citizen exemption, unless you make significant improvements to your home.
Who is eligible to vote in this election?
Any registered voter that resides within the school district boundaries.
Can I still register to vote in the election?
The deadline for voter registration is April 10. If you are not registered to vote by this deadline, then you are not eligible to vote in this election. You can pick up a registration card from your local post office or you can register online.
After I have registered, when will I receive my Voter Registration Certificate?
You should receive a Voter Registration Certificate within 30 days. On Election Day, please bring your certificate to your local polling place if you have it. However, all that is required is a valid form of photo ID.
What is the timeline for projects listed in the bond?
Most projects will be set for completion in the fall of 2017.
When would new schools open?
If the bond referendum is passed, the bonds would be sold and design of the elementary and middle school facilities would begin this summer. Construction would be planned to start in 2015 with an estimated completion for the 2017-18 school year.
Have attendance zones for new schools been determined?
No. Attendance zones would be reconfigured, approved by the Board of Trustees, and announced in the year before the schools are opened. This will occur after demographic updates are obtained, enrollment trends are reviewed, and community input is gathered. Certainly geographic proximity will be a consideration in the process, but it is premature to identify certain neighborhoods as likely to move to the new schools. The district may consider extending “grandfathering” options to students at some grade levels.
Are utilities available for the new schools?
Yes, the district has secured future utilities, including water and wastewater availability.
Can Sawyer Ranch Road accommodate traffic generated by the new schools?
If the bond referendum passes, the district will immediately begin conducting a Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) in conjunction with Hays County. The TIA will result in recommended action for possible road improvement, which the county has agreed to work with the district to accomplish. The district has communicated with TxDOT about potential road improvements.
Wasn’t an extension road from Roger Hanks Parkway (at Hwy. 290) planned to go to RR12?
The City of Dripping Springs’ master plan that was done in 2010 included a road from Highway 290 at Roger Hanks Parkway to Ranch Road 12. The section of roadway included by the district in this bond package basically would serve as the first leg of the road in the City’s master plan. The road proposed in the bond package will be required to obtain a City Certificate of Occupancy for the stadium.
Who is responsible for maintaining the road between Highway 290 and the Stadium after its construction?
The district will enter into an interlocal agreement with the City of Dripping Springs that will include details regarding timelines, ownership, maintenance responsibilities, etc.
What do the designs for the schools and extracurricular facilities look like?
The facilities have not yet been designed; this would occur if the bond referendum is passed. The district did, however, conduct environmental and topographical studies several years ago on the Sawyer Ranch property, and also had preliminary schematic studies done to make sure two campuses could fit on the 49 acres. The district has been working with Huckabee, an architecture firm, to develop preliminary estimates for use in the planning process using basic specifications on the proposed projects (such as square footage).
What is the general building concept for the new elementary and middle schools next to one another?
The two schools will share support facilities such as kitchen, mechanical equipment, and electrical equipment, which will result in an operational cost savings and efficient use of space. Each school will have its own, separate entrance and function as an independent campus. There will be secured, main entry points at each school to control access into the buildings and controlled access for staff and administration between the two campuses.
If there are extra bond funds left over after the completion of the projects, what will those funds be used for?
Once stated priorities in the bond package are addressed, remaining funds may be used for the purchase of land for school facilities and/or the purchase of new school buses as well as the construction and equipment of additional District facilities. Additional amounts (beyond what is in the current breakdown) may be applied to items that are already listed. For instance, remaining funds could be used on additional technology and maintenance items. The election order states the funds may be used “for the purposes of designing, constructing, renovating, acquiring, and equipping school facilities in the District, the purchase of necessary sites for school facilities, and the purchase of new school buses, with priority given to the construction of a new elementary school and a new middle school, implementing District-wide technology and safety upgrades and equipment acquisition, District-wide HVAC and roofing repairs, completion and improvements to the existing competition field, and constructing and equipping new baseball and softball fields...”
What will happen if the bond referendum does not pass?
The Board of Trustees could decide to hold another bond election in the future, either with all or some of the projects included in the current proposal. If the middle school and elementary campuses pass their capacity before such a time that new facilities are constructed, arrangements will be made to accommodate the growing enrollment, such as outdoor portable buildings.
How will new facilities affect the district operating costs?
District administration is aware that M&O (maintenance and operation) costs will increase when the new buildings are complete. This increase will be incorporated into fiscal planning, as DSISD plans its budgeting up to three years in advance. However, many variables can change between now and when the new schools are planned to open in the fall of 2017. When new schools open, some teachers and staff members would be moved from current campuses, and there also will be some new positions (principal, nurse, etc.). In addition, the new facilities will have lower maintenance costs and use more energy-efficient equipment than older facilities.
How does the projected cost of the two new schools proposed compare with other new schools being constructed?
The projected cost of the new schools – $55.7 million – is based on a per-square-foot amount that is comparable to recently bid educational facilities and reflects the same quality of the high school/middle school conversions completed in 2010. The per-square-foot cost of the proposed schools includes a small percentage for green initiatives to increase efficiency and reduce waste. The projected cost of the new schools is a “turnkey” number. This means the projected cost not only includes the building itself, but also includes the site work, site drainage, landscaping, parking lots, athletic and PE fields, playgrounds and equipment, furniture, computers, finishes, etc.
Would new tax rate be permanent?
The projected tax rate increase of 5 cents on the debt service tax rate is not permanent or fixed for a period of time but is set by the Board each budget cycle (annually) based on the District’s taxable assessed valuation, debt payment requirements and the board’s annual consideration to pay off debt early. The five-cent increase would bring the total debt service rate to 50 cents per $100 of certified value.
What projects were considered by the committee but did not end up in the final proposed bond package?
All documents used by the Long-Range Facility Planning Committee are available on the DSISD website, under “About DSISD,” then “District Planning.” The list of potential projects that was compiled, studied, discussed and prioritized by the committee is available at: http://www.dsisd.txed.net/DocumentCenter/View/71641.
Are (residential) developers required to contribute in some way to construction of schools that are added as a result of increased population?
No, there is no mechanism in place for developers to assist in funding school construction. In some cases, developers offer pieces of land either at no cost or a reduced cost for construction of a school within the development; that is how the land for Rooster Springs Elementary was acquired.
What was included in the last bond program?
The last bond program, which was approved by voters in November of 2007, was mainly for the “swap,” which added approximately 200,000 square feet to the current high school campus. In addition, the 150 acres at the intersection of Sawyer Ranch Road and Darden Hill Road was purchased with bond proceeds. A full explanation is available at: http://www.dsisd.txed.net/DocumentCenter/Home/View/3.
Will a road connect the new campus directly into Highpointe?
What the campus driveways will look like and exactly where they will exit onto existing roads are decisions that will be made when the new campus is designed. The district will gather input from the community – including the Highpointe and Belterra neighborhoods – before final plans are drawn up.
Has the district looked at working with Google to get fiber optic lines installed?
While Austin recently was designated as a “Google Fiber city,” that service is not slated to extend to nearby communities such as Dripping Springs. Currently, the district owns its own fiber and has an agreement in place with PEC to use their poles for no charge. The district is connected to Region XIII, which works with Time Warner Cable to secure a 40-percent discount for educational institutions, providing 200 megabits of bandwidth. Overall, DSISD’s current set-up is effective and efficient; it just needs to be extended for the new campuses.
What is the district’s current indebtedness?
The district’s outstanding principal on previously issued debt is $121,469,999. Payments of principal are made annually and interest is paid. All existing debt is scheduled to be paid off by 2033.
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