Board Continues Bond, Growth Discussions
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 (see background).
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:
- 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.
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.
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.