LRPC Recommends May 2021 Bond Election
Long Range Planning Committee Recommends May 2021 Bond Election
Posted on 01/28/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Long Range Planning Committee Recommends May 2021 Bond Election

The Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) presented a report to the Northwest ISD Board of Trustees on Jan. 25, 2021 that recommended they call a $747.7 million bond election for  May 1, 2021.

The recommendation includes funds to build three new schools and replace three schools, for additions and renovations at Northwest High School, to address aging facilities with lifecycle maintenance and replacements, to add accessibility to elementary playgrounds, and more.

Trustees will consider the recommendation and will ultimately decide whether to call a bond election for May 2021 and what projects would be included.

In Texas, school districts may hold bond elections during the May election or the November election. If the NISD school board chooses to call an election for May 1, 2021, they must call the election by Feb. 12.

The committee's recommendation comes following a district survey, stakeholder feedback and a series of LRPC meetings to identify the most urgent projects needed to address district growth and aging facilities after voters rejected a $986 million bond referendum last fall.

Phyllis Grissom, a member of the LRPC, told the board that the committee included projects to grant equity across the district, provide accessibility for all students, maintain fiscal responsibility, improve efficiency, promote safety and protect the investment in current facilities and equipment.

“Environment matters,” she said. “We talked a lot about this. Where our students learn makes a difference in how they learn and how successful they are as students.”

The LRPC met with financial experts, demographers, and Tim McClure, assistant superintendent for facilities, to study multiple options, Grissom said.

“We pushed it to the limit,” she told trustees. “We wanted to see every possible scenario. We wanted to see what we could do in two years, what we could do in three years, what we could do in four years, and how do those things change.”

Forecasting schedule for three year plan

The committee proposed a three-year plan to accommodate 5,000 additional students with new schools and replacement buildings.

Jacob Wurman, a member of the LRPC, said the committee felt it would be too soon to come back for another bond in two years, but four years was too long with the unpredictability of world events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We came up with what we thought we needed right now,” he told the board, showing them a list of projects the committee considered, but decided to postpone. “Over three years, we feel very confident that this is sustainable and the projects that are outlined in the three-year plan are going to help us move forward for the next bond.”

three year interest and sinking tax rate projections for northwest isd

Wurman explained that due to substantial real estate development within the district, projects would be funded at the current interest and sinking tax rate of $0.42 per $100 valuation.

“We have the ability to repay these,” he said. “COVID has not stopped real estate from happening. The money is going to be there to fund these projects. As these cow pastures turn over into residential neighborhoods, we are going to continue to grow this tax base at exponential rates.”

LRPC member Joe Washam explained that state law requires school bonds to be presented across several propositions based on different criteria. For Northwest ISD, the proposed projects would be presented as four separate propositions.

He outlined that Proposition A includes $714.3 million for new facilities, additions and land to address growth; capital improvements and renovations needed for current facilities; special education updates and accessibility updates to provide equity and meet evolving needs; and technology to provide safety and security updates.

“This time around, we knew we just needed to stick to the simple needs of the students — school buildings, which take up a huge chunk of Prop A, and things that you need with those school buildings,” he said.

At $8.1 million, Proposition B addresses renovations needed at stadiums, including the district’s track and field complex, known as Texan Stadium, Washam said. Texan Stadium was built in 1950 when there was only one high school – the Northwest Texans.

“This is a small facility where our middle school football teams play, and where track and field competitions are held,” he said. “That stuff is falling apart over there, but we still host many events there, so we need to renovate that equipment.”

Proposition C contains $5.7 million for “other recreational facilities,” including tennis courts and a football field for the proposed seventh middle school.

“It would just be embarrassing to have a school built without the athletic facilities for those students,” Washam said, pointing to the added difficulty and extra costs of transporting students to off-site facilities if the proposition does not pass.

Also included in Proposition C is a plan to add tennis courts to Medlin Middle School in Trophy Club. The campus does not have its own tennis courts, so student athletes utilize city courts. But city residents have priority on those courts, Washam explained, and often students will have to leave the courts if a resident wishes to use them.

“We cannot stress to our community enough the importance of equity and accessibility when it comes to facilities for our students,” he said.

Proposition D includes $19.4 million to purchase new technology devices for students and teachers as the district grows and previous devices become obsolete. This proposal would allow the district to continue with its device replacement cycle and provide devices for new students and staff.

LRPC Recommendation 1/25

Grissom told trustees the committee hopes their recommendation hits the “sweet spot” of what the district needs and what taxpayers will support.

“There is distrust and criticism that our society, I think, has in general about government and institutions, but that also exists in our own neighborhood,” she told the board. “We want to help people really see that we’re trying to be transparent, we want to engage them in this process, and we’re trying to do what’s best for our whole community.”

To view the Long Range Planning Committee’s entire recommendation, click here.