Bond & Growth - 2/2/16
At its February 1 regular meeting, Superintendent Kay Waggoner recapped bond planning efforts progressing through last year involving staff, parents and community groups, concluding with a recommendation that the Board call a bond election on February 15 for $437 million in a single proposition. Major elements of a proposed bond package would include:
If approved by voters, a $437 million bond package would increase the debt service tax rate by 8 cents, which equates to a property tax increase of approximately $138.95 ($11.58 a month) for an average residential home in RISD. $20 million of the package would come from utilizing existing debt service fund balance and would not create an additional tax burden.
- $215.7 million to replace/repair current infrastructure, facilities, program/instructional equipment, technology and safety/security features that has reached or will reach end of useful life by 2021
- $107.2 million for construction and capital measures to accommodate enrollment growth
- $59.9 million for construction of a multipurpose activity center at each of RISD's four high schools
- $19.4 million for additional instructional technology and devices to provide every RISD classroom with comparable technology
- $17.1 million for renovations of every school library to create more flexible learning environments
- $9.9 million for equipment to provide additional Career Technical Education courses and to support JROTC programs at each high school
- $6.5 million in enrichment materials for curriculum and instruction
Approximately $47 million would be placeholder funds to address enrollment growth over the five year cycle, primarily in the Lake Highlands area. Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Dr. Jeannie Stone will be creating and leading a community reflector group of stakeholders to study potential options, with construction of additional classrooms at current schools, construction of a new school, and construction of a centralized pre-kindergarten center among possibilities. If you are interested in participating in the reflector group, please email your contact information to email@example.com.
The reflector group will work through the spring to arrive at recommendations to the Board for use of the placeholder funds to accommodate enrollment growth in the proposed bond.
Learn more & view the video of the meeting
Board Continues Bond, Growth Discussions - 1/27/16
At the January 26 study session, RISD trustees continued discussions about bond planning, including strategies for managing elementary growth that could impact the 2016 bond package.
Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Jeannie Stone continued the discussion regarding the framework for enrollment growth at the elementary level. Dr. Stone shared the following district recommendations:
Dr. Stone indicated that the possible addition of classrooms to White Rock Elementary is still being studied, including concerns about the operational impact on the school if enrollment were to reach 1,000 students. Other measures continuing to be studied as possibilities include future construction of a new elementary school, relocation of some central programs and adding pre-kindergarten classrooms in Lake Highlands.
- New classroom construction at Aikin (2 classrooms), Mark Twain (6), Northwood Hills (6), and Stults Road (4) elementary schools.
- Expansion of all elementary magnet program eligibility to all areas of Lake Highlands, with priority areas designated to help accommodate enrollment growth in specific parts of the district.
- Move the portion of the Mark Twain Elementary attendance boundary south of Frances Way into the Jess Harben Elementary attendance boundary, impacting approximately 75 current students. The impact on Liberty Junior High would begin in the 2018-19 school year with an increase of up to 10 students based on current enrollment.
- Utilization of portable classrooms if recommended by administration.
- Continue the use of the overflow process as a temporary accommodation to enrollment growth.
Deputy Superintendent of Finance and Support Tony Harkleroad presented scenarios to include additional funds in the proposed bond for construction to accommodate enrollment growth. By utilizing $5 million of debt service fund balance, an additional $20 million could be included in the 2016 bond, without impacting the debt service tax rate. That scenario would increase the proposed bond to $437 million, but still involve an overall tax rate increase of 8 cents.
Inclusion of additional funds for construction would increase the total proposed funding in the bond to accommodate enrollment growth to $107.2 million. An 8 cent increase to the debt service tax rate would mean an increase of approximately $138.95 ($11.58 a month) for an average residential home in RISD valued at $220,758.
Trustees also engaged in an exercise to prioritize factors to consider when evaluating different options to accommodate enrollment growth in Lake Highlands, with trustees asked to prioritize different possible solutions based on weighted factors such as student instruction, impact on neighborhood schools, size, safety and future flexibility.
Having previously provided direction for RISD staff to investigate land acquisition options to provide future flexibility to accommodate enrollment growth, the Board concluded the meeting with a discussion in closed session regarding the potential negotiation for acquisition of land for the possible future construction of an elementary school in Lake Highlands. The board returned from closed session and took action to permit RISD to engage in negotiations to potentially acquire a parcel of land at 9601 and 9603 White Rock Trail in Dallas.
Trustees will continue discussion of bond planning at the February 1 Regular meeting.
Learn more about the January 26 RISD Board study session, including a video of the meeting.
Board Continues Bond, Growth Discussions - 1/21/16
At the January 20 study session, RISD trustees continued discussions about bond planning, including strategies for managing elementary growth that could impact the 2016 bond package.
Deputy Superintendent of Finance Tony Harkleroad provided trustees with feedback from the January 19 Community Bond Advisory Committee meeting, including information that a majority of CBAC members recommend a single proposition for the upcoming bond package, rather than multiple propositions.
Harkleroad also provided trustees with different funding scenarios for capital projects, including one-time uses of operating funds or debt service fund balance that could be used to supplement placeholder funds within the bond package if needed to address elementary growth within the bond period.
Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Jeannie Stone summarized efforts under discussion to address elementary growth, including the following recommendations:
Potential actions still under consideration include relocation of some central programs; adding a pre-kindergarten center in Lake Highlands; and exploring land acquisition to potentially construct a new future elementary school. The preliminary recommendation to change Skyview and Thurgood Marshall elementary attendance boundaries has been pulled from current consideration.
- Expand elementary magnet school eligibility to include all of the Lake Highlands area while also enhancing program offerings at all three elementary magnet schools.
- Move the portion of the Mark Twain Elementary attendance boundary south of Frances Way to Jess Harben Elementary. This change would impact approximately 75 current elementary students, with current fourth and fifth graders grandfathered to remain at Mark Twain. Because this recommendation would involve a change of junior high attendance boundary for affected families, parents would have the ability to request to remain in the Apollo JH area through the existing transfer process. The potential impact on Liberty JH enrollment would begin in 2018-19, and eventually include up to 27 additional students, based on current enrollment.
- Construct additional classrooms at Aikin, Mark Twain, Northwood Hills, Stults and White Rock elementary schools to accommodate enrollment growth in those attendance areas.
The Board also heard information and research from Dr. Stone regarding the optimal size of an elementary school. Dr. Stone's conclusions included impact on curriculum quality, resources for students, operating cost impact, academic achievement, socioeconomics, parent involvement, safety and staff quality. From an instructional standpoint, the research did not support one single optimal elementary school size. Elementary schools that reach 1,000 students can thrive academically if the student population is primarily not at-risk and the school enjoys strong parent and community support. Trustees discussed the need to evaluate each school on an individual basis and the challenges and merits of allowing elementary schools to reach larger sizes.
Trustees are planning to continue discussion of bond planning at a study session on January 26.
Learn more about the January 20 RISD Board Study Session, including a video of the meeting.
Bond Planning & Enrollment Growth - 1/13/16
Trustees continued discussions about bond planning, including strategies for managing elementary growth that could impact the 2016 bond (see background). Trustees heard a summary of stakeholder feedback about bond priorities from the series of stakeholder meetings held in October-December. The top priority of staff, parents and community members providing feedback is additional technology for classrooms, followed by expanded Career Technical Education courses, then multipurpose facilities, with school library renovations/transformations the fourth option.
Dr. Waggoner announced that the January 5 preliminary recommendation related to a primary education center at Northlake Elementary has been pulled. Staff also confirmed the reduction in scope of the proposed multipurpose facilities and library renovations to less expensive options that could still meet the needs of students and staff. The projected cost reductions would remain included in the proposed bond as additional funds available to address enrollment growth.
Board members further discussed the possibility of calling a single bond election or separating it into more than one proposition. The timing of the election was also discussed, and staff confirmed that classroom construction projects could be ready in time for the 2017-18 school year if permission to begin preliminary planning is granted in February and the funds are approved in a May election. Alternatively, waiting until November for a bond election would push potential new classroom construction to an earliest completion for the 2018-19 school year.
Trustees acknowledged and thanked parents, staff and stakeholders for providing feedback related to bond planning and enrollment growth, encouraging additional feedback as discussions continue. Two additional work sessions are being scheduled to discuss bond planning and the impact of elementary enrollment growth, on January 20 and January 26.
Learn more about the January 11 regular meeting, including video.
Board Hears Demographic Update, Discusses Enrollment Growth, Bond - 1/6/16
At its January 5 study session, RISD trustees heard the annual updated report of RISD enrollment trends from Templeton Demographics. The demographic report evaluates enrollment trends and includes projections for enrollment for schools and neighborhoods across RISD.
- RISD enrollment has continued to grow, adding the second highest number of students in Region 10 over the last five years, behind Frisco.
- Moderate future growth is expected, driven by single family home turnover and new multifamily housing projects.
- RISD can anticipate an additional 2,344 students over the next five years.
- Over ten years, the number of projected additional students is 4,366.
- Enrollment districtwide is up in 2015-16 from 2014-15, but less than projected.
- Just over half of RISD students reside in single family homes.
- The largest two classes in RISD continue to be Kindergarten and first grade.
See the demographic report.
Staff then continued discussion (see background) of a wide range of short- and long-term potential options with trustees to accommodate enrollment growth, specifically at the elementary level, including some that might impact the upcoming bond package expected to be called by trustees in February. From among the potential options, and after factoring in the latest enrollment projections from the demographic report, preliminary recommendations from staff were discussed, including:
- Redrawing attendance boundaries to include a portion of Mark Twain Elementary’s boundaries south of Frances Way into Jess Harben Elementary.
- Redrawing attendance boundaries to include a portion of Skyview Elementary’s boundaries north of I-635 to Thurgood Marshall Elementary.
- Adding classrooms and potential necessary infrastructure at Aikin, Northwood Hills, Stults Rd. and White Rock elementary schools.
- Constructing a new primary education center at Northlake Elementary to serve pre-Kindergarten students in the Northlake and neighboring Wallace and White Rock attendance areas, and Kindergarten students in the Northlake and White Rock attendance areas.
- Construction of a primary education center would substantially alleviate space concerns at Wallace and White Rock without requiring a change in attendance boundaries for those schools.
- Reserving funds in bond 2016 to provide flexibility to add classrooms at additional schools if needed over next five years.
- Evaluating the use of portable classrooms as a temporary solution to accommodate short-term growth or accommodate sustained growth at schools while permanent classrooms are being constructed. Trustees and staff emphasized the need to ensure that the placement and configuration of any portable classrooms would maximize safety and security.
- Opening eligibility of all district magnet options to parents in Lake Highlands while increasing program offerings at Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet.
- Continue studying feasibility of relocating central programs at schools within the district to provide more comprehensive services and create classroom capacity at specific schools.
- Pursuing acquisition of land in a high growth area of Lake Highlands to provide future flexibility.
- Incorporating funds in 2016 bond proposal to fund the items requiring construction/capital purchases.
Staff believe a combination of preliminary recommendations would allow RISD to address short- and long-term elementary enrollment growth. Measures that could be in place in time for the 2016-17 school year include expanding magnet eligibility, changing attendance boundaries, relocating some central programs and/or installing portable classrooms.
Other measures that include construction of additional classrooms could be completed in time for the 2017-18 school year (by August 2017) if a decision is made by trustees by the end of February 2016.
The district will engage parents and stakeholders impacted by the possible attendance boundary changes to answer questions and solicit feedback. Details surrounding options for current students and families residing within potentially redrawn areas would be determined through the meeting and feedback process.
RISD staff and trustees also discussed, but staff did not currently recommend, construction of an additional elementary school in a high-growth area of Lake Highlands, which would potentially require attendance boundary changes to multiple schools. Acquisition of land in Lake Highlands to provide flexibility to address future growth was preliminarily recommended.
Trustees will study the preliminary recommendations and revisit the topics at their January 11 regular meeting.
See the bond planning presentation and preliminary recommendations to address growth.
In addition to the fiscal implications of construction related to enrollment growth on the 2016 bond, the Board also discussed other potential bond items and information, including:
- Reducing the size and scope of proposed Multipurpose Facilities at each high school to less expensive options, which would reduce the projected cost of each from $20.4 million to a maximum of $14.9 million. Trustees were provided information about comparable smaller facilities within the Metroplex. Less expensive options include a shortened field length, reduced height, removal of dedicated golf practice areas, and reduced space for trainers, offices, and storage. The shortened field length would still be able to accommodate RISD’s marching band practices.
- Reducing the cost and scope of proposed library transformations/renovations at each RISD school. As the potential projects have been evaluated at each school, projected costs have become more definitive as the amount of materials and retrofitting have become more clear. Less retrofitting work than initially projected would be necessary as it relates to electrical upgrades impacting the slab foundations, and fewer materials would be needed to support student and staff computers and devices. The impact of the refined scope on the projected cost of the proposed library renovations will reduce the cost from $23.3 million to $17.2 million.
See information and benchmark comparisons about the potential reduced-scope multipurpose facilities.
The preliminary impact of the additional potential funds to address enrollment growth on the 2016 bond package would be offset by the projected cost reductions of less expensive multipurpose facilities and library renovations, if trustees were to eventually vote to include all of the potential items into the bond package.
The total projected cost of all currently-proposed 2016 bond items would be $417 million, which if approved by voters would mean a property tax rate increase of approximately 8 cents. For an average residential home in RISD valued at $220,758, an 8 cent tax rate increase would mean an annual tax increase of approximately $138.95, which is a monthly increase of approximately $11.58.
Watch a recording of the entire January 5 study session.
Trustees Continue Bond Planning, Discuss Enrollment Growth - 12/9/15
At its regular meeting on December 7, the RISD Board of Trustees continued discussions about potential items for inclusion in a 2016 bond package. Trustees received an update of feedback from stakeholders provided at recent community meetings and discussed specific topics impacting potential bond items.
Based on stakeholder feedback received at community meetings to date, the top priority among enrichment options for inclusion in the bond is additional classroom technology for teacher and student use, followed by Career & Technical Education/JROTC, Multipurpose Facilities and Library Transformations. Additional community meetings are scheduled and feedback is also being accepted online.
Also based on stakeholder feedback, additional detail of proposed expenditures in each operational and curricular area is being prepared.
Elementary Enrollment Growth
Staff and trustees discussed strategies to address elementary enrollment growth. RISD has constructed 59 elementary classrooms at 10 schools since 2012 to create capacity for additional students. Construction will be completed on six additional classrooms at an eleventh school (Prairie Creek) in time for the 2016-17 school year.
Despite the recent construction of additional classrooms, some elementary schools are operating close to or at capacity and are overflowing students in some grade levels to other schools that have space. RISD anticipates receiving an updated demographic report in January that will include projected enrollment at schools and districtwide into the next decade.
Trustees and staff discussed potential options if the updated report indicates the need to consider longer-term solutions such as construction of additional classrooms at a school, redrawing attendance boundaries and/or construction of a new school.
If construction is needed, the source of funding could potentially be included in the 2016 bond or paid for through one-time use of operating funds.
One strategy RISD could employ to address elementary enrollment growth in the 2016 bond involves including a placeholder dollar amount dedicated to address the issue. The strategy would allow RISD and stakeholders the flexibility and time to address growth as needed through the five year bond period.
The Board also heard strategies to address current elementary enrollment growth for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year, including potential expansion of eligibility for all Lake Highlands areas to apply to attend any elementary magnet school; enhancement of magnet offerings at Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet (the elementary magnet school that has traditionally served Lake Highlands); studying the possible relocation of central programs to provide more comprehensive services and create classroom capacity at specific schools; redrawing attendance boundaries; continuing to utilize overflow as a strategy on a school-by-school basis in grade levels that reach the state-mandated 22 student cap in each K-4 section; and/or temporarily exceeding the 22 student cap on a school-by school basis to reduce student overflow.
More specific long-term options will be discussed by trustees, including potential items for inclusion in the bond, once the updated demographic report is available in January.
Multipurpose Facilities (MPFs)
Trustees received comparison information about indoor facilities that have already been constructed in several other districts. The data includes what other districts paid in base cost, an inflation index and site/project development fees to arrive at an estimated cost for what a similarly-sized and equipped facility would cost RISD to build in 2017. Indoor facilities in other districts vary substantially in size, building materials, code requirements and features like field length, storage space, weight rooms, classrooms and office space. See MPF comparison information.
Staff and trustees discussed possible ways to reduce the cost of potential MPFs by reducing the scope of the proposed projects.
2016 Bond Planning - 11/17/15
Trustees continued discussions about possible items for inclusion in a 2016 bond and received information about feedback from the latest Community Bond Advisory Committee (CBAC) meeting. CBAC feedback included general support of potential enrichment items and ranked the items in order of priority. The community group also recommended that if multi-purpose facilities are included in the bond, they be added as a separate proposition due to their cost. The CBAC is planning to meet again after the four 2016 Bond planning community meetings.
Trustees also previewed RISD's 2016 Bond planning website that includes the presentation being provided to stakeholder groups, supporting information about what is under consideration, and an online form for taxpayers, parents, staff, students and other stakeholders to provide feedback.
2016 Bond Planning Community Meetings Scheduled - 10/23/15
RISD is continuing to evaluate potential items to include in the 2016 bond and public input is a critical part of the bond planning process. Public meetings will be held in each of RISD's four feeder patterns to present information about possible items for inclusion, solicit feedback, hear ideas and answer questions. Parents, residents and employees who are interested in the bond planning process are encouraged to attend.
- November 30 - Pearce HS Corral - 6:30 p.m.
- December 1 - Lake Highlands HS Library - 6:30 p.m.
- December 2 - Berkner HS Lecture Hall - 6:30 p.m.
- December 8 - Richardson HS Library - 6:30 p.m.
Board Continues Bond Discussions - 10/9/15
At its October regular meeting, RISD trustees continued discussions assessing district needs and potential items for inclusion in a 2016 bond package.
Trustees and staff are working to narrow a list of possible items and requests from different departments, programs and schools in advance of efforts to present options to community stakeholders for feedback and ideas.
Potential items have been categorized in one of three ways: maintenance of infrastructure & equipment at the end of useful life, construction/renovations to accommodate enrollment growth, and items that would provide enrichment opportunities for RISD students.
RISD is finalizing a schedule of opportunities to meet with community and parent groups in a listening tour about 2016 bond ideas to begin later this month. Dates of community meetings will be published in future issues of School Times, as well as on risd.org and social media.
Sept. 21 Trustees’ Meeting Highlights Community Engagement,
Ideas for Bond 2016 - 9/24/15
At its September 21 study session, the Richardson ISD Board of Trustees discussed possibilities and financial implications of a bond package for spring 2016.
Superintendent Kay Waggoner, PhD, opened the discussion with highlights of the bond process. Executive Director of Communications Karah Womack then shared an overview of the communications plan and timeline for community engagement. Beginning in October and continuing through early December, the district’s leadership team will conduct a listening tour across RISD during which members of the public will be able to learn what types of items are being considered for the upcoming bond, and provide feedback and ideas. Meeting dates and details will be announced on the district homepage, as well as through RISD’s School Times newsletter and the district’s social media channels.
Deputy Superintendent for Finance and Operations Tony Harkleroad then facilitated a discussion about possible items being considered for Bond 2016. Items under consideration are being slated into three general categories:
Several financial scenarios were presented, connecting bond packages of differing dollar amounts with implications on the property tax rate and future bond possibilities.
- maintenance items, which are equipment and infrastructure items that are past or will reach the end of useful life within five years;
- construction/capacity projects, which include additions or renovations to existing facilities, including additional space to accommodate enrollment growth;
- enrichment possibilities, which range from major technology initiatives to new facilities for extracurricular programs.