Leander ISD Board of Trustees proposes $454.4 million bond

Leander ISD voters will decide on a $454.4 million bond that would fund the construction of four new schools and enhance existing facilities and technology across the district.

The Leander ISD Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to hold an election for a $454.4 million bond to fund four new schools and improve existing facilities in the district.

They say it will help address their enrollment growth as well as improve current buildings and safety.

"This is the athletics area, you have the auxiliary gym, and the competition gym,” said Corey Ryan, with Leander ISD, as he gave KVUE a tour around Leander Middle School.

It’s one of the oldest buildings in the district and would get improvements if voters pass the proposed bond.
The school is slotted to get a new HVAC system and a permanent building to replace portable classrooms.

"Ideally they're a temporary solution, here at Leander Middle School they've been here for 15, 20 years in some cases,” said Ryan.

Ryan said a Bond Advisory Committee, made up of 155 community volunteers, came up with a list of priorities.

He said they took input from the community, and have been meeting since January.

"With a bond election, what voters are doing, is authorizing a district to sell bonds to be able to fund facility projects and capital projects,” said Ryan.

The board chose projects like expanding Vandegrift high school, adding Career and Technology facilities, and updating technology district wide.

The bond would fund the construction and furnishing of three new elementary schools and a new middle school. It would also fund the expansion Vandegrift High School, including 14 new classrooms, which would increase capacity from 2,400 to 2,900 students.

The bond would also build four new schools, three elementary and one middle school, as well as put money towards buying land for future schools.

The money would go towards design, construction, and furnishing for those new schools. They would be the 27, 28, and 29th elementary school, and the 9th middle school in the district.

It's all to help address the growing population.

"We’re expecting 39,200 students, it's about 12 hundred more from the previous year,” said Ryan.

The district is expected to grow by 1,200 students each year for the next four years.

"This bond will be able to address that growth through construction of new schools, adding some infrastructure, and then building improvements across our district,” said Ryan.

The last time Leander district voters approved a bond, was back in 2007.

Since then, the district has grown by almost 12,000 students.

"What elections do is have an additional mechanism to be able to fund facilities to accommodate growth,” said Ryan.

But Some question the idea of bond elections.

Don Zimmerman, the director of the Travis County Taxpayers Union, opposed the Round Rock ISD bond issue that failed last year.

"We're really exasperated, the tax payers here are facing out of control spending, and taxation,” said Zimmerman.

But, according to the district, if voters approve this Bond, the district plans to keep the existing tax rate of $1.51 per $100 valuation.

They say the district can pay it down, with the money they already have.

"If voters were to approve this proposition, Leander ISD projects to be able to pay down this debt, within our current tax structure,” said Ryan.

Ryan also said with state funding decreasing, districts need a solution.

"Under the current financial structure, we do not have it within our means to be able to build new schools, to be able to deal with the growth of additional students," said Ryan.

According to Ryan, the state provides about 24 percent of the district's funding, a big drop from the 47 percent they provided back in 2009.

"As property values go up, we're not seeing additional dollars, because the state is reducing our contribution to our schools,” said Ryan.

But as for this bond, it's now in the hands of the voters.

Early voting will begin Oct. 23 through Nov. 3. Election day is Nov. 7. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 10.

You can read more about the bond here

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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