Garland ISD Board of Trustees calls school bond election

The Nov. 4 ballot will include an additional item for voters in Garland, Rowlett and Sachse. Garland ISD’s Board of Trustees approved calling a bond election at a special meeting Aug. 18.

Voters will decide whether to approve the $455.5-million bond proposal. The district currently intends to use the bond, if approved, to address aging facilities, student safety and 21st-century education. Under the currently proposed use, all 85 GISD facilities would receive building or technology upgrades.

Specific proposed uses currently include:

  • Remodeling front entrances to make campuses more secure
  • New fire alarms, fire sprinklers, security cameras and access control systems
  • Americans with Disabilities Act renovations
  • Improvements to current technology infrastructure, upgraded wireless connectivity and additional devices for students
  • Replacing windows, air conditioning units and heating systems
  • New lights, bathrooms and concessions at high school baseball and softball fields to meet federal law requirements

More than 70 percent of GISD buildings are 24-77 years old, and a recent assessment by independent school facilities experts identified more than $1.7 billion in ren­ovation and construction needs throughout the district. This list does not reflect the routine maintenance GISD regularly performs on district buildings. It is a result of mechanical, electrical, heating and cooling systems reaching the end of their life cycles, as well as changing state and federal standards and regulation. The $455.5-million bond proposal represents those needs deemed most critical–approximately one-third of the overall total. A diverse citizen's committee of more than 50 people helped determine priorities and made recommendations to GISD Trustees.

The board currently plans to use approximately $367.7 million for building and technology upgrades, with the remaining approximately $87.8 million to fund educational opportunities for district students.

  • A proposed Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center would give high schoolers equal access to CTE courses regardless of their campus. It would also allow GISD to implement new programs or expand existing ones
  • A proposed natatorium/aquatics center would provide a practice facility for the district’s swimming program and allow participation from all seven high schools. It would also allow GISD to train elementary students in water safety and offer open swim times to the public
  • Expanding band and choir accommodations at the secondary level would allow for program growth and increased Fine Arts enrollment

In 2013-14, more than 2,000 students, staff, parents and community members helped GISD create its Strategic Plan, which will guide district decision-making through 2018. The group set a goal of providing a secure learning environment that allows active student participation and opportunities to collaborate through relevant content and instruction. A second group then worked throughout the summer to design a bond referendum, which was presented to the board Aug. 12.

Voters will decide Nov. 4 whether to approve GISD’s $455.5-million proposal. The last day of voter registration is Oct. 6, and early voting begins Oct. 20. Polling locations include Richland College in Garland, the Rowlett City Hall Annex and Sachse High School.

If voters approve the bond package, GISD would adopt a property tax rate increase in the future.  This tax rate increase would have no impact on the homesteads of district residents aged 65 and older, because their tax rates can be capped once senior citizen exemptions are filed with the appropriate county appraisal district.

GISD estimates that its Interest & Sinking tax rate increase would be phased in over a six-year period, beginning with an estimated $0.06 increase in the 2015-16 fiscal year. This would result in an additional $60 in yearly taxes for the owner of a home valued at $100,000. By 2020, the district estimates that the total Interest & Sinking tax rate resulting from the bond’s passage would reach $0.42, raising the tax bill on a $100,000 home by $200 a year, or $17 per month. Because of the district’s strong fiscal management practices, GISD has been able to maintain the second-lowest property tax rate of the 16 school districts in Dallas County.

Visit the Bond 2014 web page for more information.

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