1. What is a bond? A bond is similar to a home mortgage. It is a contract to repay borrowed money with a low-cost interest rate over time. Bonds are sold by a school district to competing lenders to raise funds to pay for the costs of construction, renovations and equipment. Most school districts in Texas utilize bonds to finance renovations and new facilities.
2. How can bond funds be used? Bond funds can be used to pay for new buildings, additions and renovations to existing facilities, land acquisition, technology infrastructure and equipment for new or existing buildings and large ticket items such as school buses. Bonds cannot be used for salaries or operating costs such as utility bills, supplies, building maintenance, fuel and insurance.
3. What is a bond election? School districts are required by state law to ask voters for permission to sell bonds to investors in order to raise the capital dollars required to renovate existing buildings or build a new school. Essentially, it’s permission to take out a loan to build and renovate and pay that loan back over an extended period of time, much like a family takes out a mortgage loan for their home. A school board calls a bond election so that voters can decide whether or not they want to pay for proposed facility projects.
4. Exactly how much is the District asking for? The Board of Trustees called a bond election in the amount of $24,645,000 to be brought before voters on May 12, 2012 for the following projects: Proposition One includes the renovation of the existing Whitney Intermediate and Middle School buildings to serve grades 3-5, district administration and the special education cooperative; and an entirely new middle school for grades 6-8 to be built adjacent to the high school. Proposition Two includes a new 8-lane track at the high school/new middle school campus that will be able to host UIL track meets and includes field events, bleachers for 250, a concession/restroom facility and lighting.
5. How was the bond package developed? The bond package was developed by a 12-member Bond Steering Committee consisting of parents, local citizens, business leaders and school staff. The committee met over the course of several months and studied the district’s community survey results, the current educational facilities, facility options and cost estimates from the District's Architect, financial information from the District’s Financial Advisor and input from campus/district staff. The committee then developed a recommendation for the Board of Trustees to consider. The recommendations were presented to the Board on February 23, 2012. The Board voted unanimously to call the bond election as presented by the Committee.
6. What does the proposed bond election address? The proposed bond election addresses aging and inefficient campuses and infrastructure, campus overcrowding that creates the need for portable buildings, safety issues, traffic congestion and technology and electrical deficiencies.
7. How is the District’s tax rate configured? A school district’s tax rate is comprised of two tax rates: the Maintenance & Operations tax (M&O) and the Interest & Sinking tax (I&S). The M&O rate is used to operate the school district, including salaries, utilities, furniture, supplies, food, gas, etc. The I&S rate is used to pay off school construction bonds. Bond sales only affect the I&S rate.
8. How will the proposed bond election affect my taxes? If the bond election is approved by voters, the tax increase is planned to be phased in over a period of time. The I&S tax rate is anticipated to increase 12 cents in 2012/13 and then to remain stable for three years. In 2015/16, the I&S tax rate is anticipated to increase by approximately 23 cents, and again by about 8.9 cents in 2019/20. This is based on the conservative assumption that there will be zero growth in taxable values within the district. If the district’s taxable values grow in the future, the tax impact on property owners will be less.
9. What are the historical growth rates in taxable value in Whitney ISD? The 10-year growth average in WISD is 4.2 percent. The chart below provides the assessed valuation and growth of the past 10 years.
10. What if I am over 65-years-old? Will my taxes go up if the bond is successful? No. If you have applied for and received the Age 65 Freeze on your homestead, your school taxes will not be raised above their frozen level.
11. What is the expected construction timeline of the proposed bond projects? If the bond is approved by voters, anticipated completion of the entire bond program is August 2014. The district anticipates that the intermediate and middle school building renovation and the new 8-lane track would be completed by Summer 2013, and the new middle school project will follow an 18-month construction schedule, beginning in March 2013 with completion in August 2014.
12. I want to vote but am not registered. Where can I register? Stop by your local post office and pick up a registration card or register online. You must register 30 days before Election Day to be eligible to vote in this election. Your last day to register is April 12, 2012.
13. After I have registered, when will I receive my Voter Registration Certificate? You should receive a Voter Registration Certificate within 30 days. On Election Day, please bring your certificate to your local polling place if you have it. However, all that is required is a valid driver’s license.
14. Will the current auditorium be renovated or rebuilt? No, it is not a part of the proposed bond plan. After studying the district’s current educational facilities, it was decided to prioritize funds elsewhere. However, under the proposed bond, the auditorium will receive roof repairs as part of the middle school renovation.
15. What will happen to the current track if Proposition Two does not pass? If Proposition Two is not approved by voters, the District will continue to use the current track in its current condition.
16. What is the special education cooperative and is it currently housed within District facilities? Hill County Shared Services Arrangement is a cooperative, wherein districts in Hill and adjoining counties can receive special education services in a cost efficient manner. Currently, there are 12 district members with Whitney ISD serving as the fiscal agent. Hill County SSA is housed in Hillsboro in what once was a Hillsboro ISD campus, known as Harris School. Until July 2002, Hillsboro ISD was the fiscal agent, so it has been located there since its inception. Whitney ISD has never had the space to house the Hill County SSA. Under the proposed bond plan, enough space would be made available to house the SSA at the current Middle School campus.
17. What will the field inside the new track be made of? It will remain natural grass. The District will not be putting in sod or artificial turf inside the new track.
18. What will you do to correct the site drainage at the existing Whitney Intermediate and Middle School buildings? An underground drain line will be installed between the existing buildings to pick up water runoff and redirect it to the existing channel. The existing channel and creek along the District's property will be improved to handle the additional water runoff.
19. How many middle school students are housed outside of the main building? There are currently 11 middle school classrooms, or over 40 percent of the middle school students, housed outside of the main building. This accounts for seven classrooms in portable buildings and four outside of the main building in the band hall and around the gym area.
20. What is the District’s long-range facility plan and how does this proposed bond fit with that plan? The District’s long-range facility plan is to eventually move all campuses to land adjacent to the current high school site. The District wishes to utilize land that it already owns to allow for additional growth at all levels of the District, as well as expansion of the current high school. It will create more efficiency to have all facilities contained within a central location in terms of athletics, bus routes, administration and more. In addition, this area of Whitney is also expanding, which means better roads and amenities to service our District.