Allen ISD is gearing up for a $222.1 million bond election that officials say is key in helping the district meet its future instructional needs.
The bond will be divided into four propositions as recommended by a community group called Project Kids that was charged with coming up with bond item recommendations.
Officials said if the bond package passes it would not impact the district’s tax rate.
Proposition A, which has a price tag of $189.3 million, includes campus updates, capital projects, safety and security upgrades, technology enhancements and transportation.
Proposition B ($7.3 million) is for track resurfacing at Lowery Stadium and Allen High School’s stadium. Turf replacement would take place at those stadiums, as well as Curtis Middle School and Eagle Stadium. Ford Middle School would receive new turf and a new track. District officials said Ford is the only school in the district not to have its own track or artificial turf even though it was built in 1982.
Proposition C ($515,000) would fund resurfacing, civil work and storage addition at the district’s tennis courts, which officials said are used by not only students but also the community.
Proposition D ($25 million) calls for the refreshing of computer devices and audio/video equipment across the district, including laptops, Chromebooks, tablets and desktops.
Though Propositions A and D are separate, officials said they go hand-in-hand.
“They’re very dependent on one another,” said Superintendent Robin Bullock. “We’re talking to the community about what Project Kids felt like priority-wise is one big project.”
Daniel Pitcock, assistant superintendent of operations, said Proposition A includes some technology initiatives that are integral to construction and security. Proposition D is more for devices for teachers and students.
“Never have we seen more of a need to have equitable access to devices,” Pitcock said, referring to the remote learning and teaching that’s happening because of the pandemic.
Officials said Proposition A is also important to ensure the facilities remain in good condition. That includes repairs/replacement to flooring, wall covering, HVAC, lighting, drainage, roofs and concrete.
“We had a large period of growth in the early 2000s, and a lot of those facilities had a 15- to 17-year life span,” said David Hicks, chief information officer. “A lot of the basic items and additions are reaching the end of their lifespan.”
The bond package comes after a $422.8 million bond proposal failed in 2019.
“It was important that we look at why the 2019 bond was not successful,” Bullock said. “So we brought back a cross representation of the community and made this a community decision process.”
Bullock said an outside facilitator worked with Project Kids and focused on how the bond would affect every school in the district.
This year’s bond package is split into different propositions because of a new requirement that was part of Senate Bill 3 that the Texas Legislature passed in 2019.
Some residents have voiced concern over the bond. Resident Joel Blaylock said for him it’s bad timing to go to voters for a bond election.
“This affects middle class families,” Blaylock said. “Some families have been hit with a 20- to 30-percent increase in costs because of COVID with things like home schooling. The living expenses have really gone up.”
Blaylock said it’s becoming more difficult to afford living in Allen.
“If property values go up in value then our taxes will still go up,” Blaylock said. “This is not a tax neutral proposition.”
Resident Ron Clark agreed.
“Is this a good time to be doing this?” Clark said.
Clark said he, too, is concerned the bond will impact residents’ pocketbooks.
“They keep saying it’s not a tax increase,” Clark said. “What is it if it’s not a tax increase?
AISD stated on its website the tax rate would not increase if the bond passes. The district points to more than $600 million in new residential and commercial property that is being added to the tax roll this year as one reason it wouldn’t impact the tax rate.
Officials also said the financial decisions have also put the district in the position of not raising the rate.
“The district has done a good job managing the debt side of our portfolio,” said Chief Financial Officer Johnny Hill. “We’ve taken advantage of the interest rates to pay off our debt and refinanced our debt for a lower interest rate. When we sell debt up to $222 million AISD has created the capacity to layer that in without going up on the tax rate.”
Hill said the district has saved taxpayers $80 million in the last 10 years by refunding bonds and saving debt service interest.