As we move closer to the May 5th SISD Bond Election, we understand that there may be people in our community that need a concise summary of the bond proposal. I do stress to the community that the final product is only as good as the process that created it. We would be remiss to not provide information to the voters about the numerous efforts by our local citizens over the past year and a half.
To start the process, engineers and architects constructed a needs assessment of the District’s facilities with the exception of the Central and Chamberlin campuses. The comprehensive list identified fifty-three areas as construction/renovation needs, totaling more than $135 million. Over the next eight months, thirty-eight citizens worked tirelessly to pare down this list. Prioritizing for academic impact, safety, and facility improvement, the committee agreed upon a focused ranking, bringing the total just shy of $61 million. Presented to the SISD Board of Trustees in December of 2017, the Board of Trustees met twice before unanimously approving the proposal - you will see on the May 5th ballot.
The proposal includes numerous safety and security updates at Gilbert; however, the majority of the work will be focused on Stephenville High School. Over $2 million of the proposed project will be allocated to fire suppression systems at Gilbert and SHS while the remaining $4 million will provide a secure vestibule/entry to SHS and enclose both buildings with structural walls. New construction has been proposed to provide the following additions totaling 80,000 square feet: New gymnasium, locker rooms, auditorium and fine arts, agricultural facility, and softball field. Renovations of the existing facility are included to address needs identified in the office and counseling areas, life skills and special education classrooms, dance studio, art classroom, band and choir expansions as well as additional square footage in the main hall corridor. The SHS Career and Technical Education area or Vocational classrooms will also be totally reconfigured to address gaps in the existing vocational curriculum in the areas of Health Science and Technology, Robotics, Culinary Arts, Computer Science and Applications, and Construction Sciences. Renovations will also be conducted to expand the current athletic training area.
These improvements will result in a tax increase of 10.8 cents, taking the School District’s total tax rate to $1.3429. For perspective, monthly impact for homeowners will be $9 for each $100,000 increment value, or just over $100/year. Stephenville ISD property taxes for citizens age 65 or older would not be affected by the bond election as long as an over 65 homestead exemption application is on file with the local appraisal district. According to state law, the dollar amount of school taxes imposed on the residence homestead of a person 65 years of age or older cannot be increased above the amount paid in the first year after the person turned 65 unless significant improvements are made to the home.
For more information about the bond proposition including footprints and publications, please visit the SISD bond page website at http://www.stephenvilleisdbond.com/.
Matt Underwood is the superintendent of Stephenville ISD.