Voters approve $160.6 million GISD bond

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Updated 11:45 p.m.
Georgetown voters have approved the $160.6 million bond election that aims to plan for future growth, pay for new campuses and update safety and security throughout the district.

The bond issue was supported by 59.9 percent of the votes, or 5,825 votes, and opposed by 40 percent of the votes, or 3,899 votes.

Updated: 8:45 p.m.

According to unofficial results, early voters in Georgetown ISD supported the $160.6 million in bond funds Nov. 3 to fund school improvements, infrastructure projects and plan for future growth. The plan would pay for new campuses, update safety and security, and plan for increasing numbers of students.

The bond issue was supported by 59.9 percent of the votes, or 3,583 votes, and opposed by 40 percent of the votes, or 2,393 votes. Voters cast a ballot for the package as a whole, not individual propositions.

Nov. 3 vote totals have not been released yet.

GISD Superintendent Fred Brent said while many view the early voting numbers with optimism, the district will wait anxiously until every last vote is counted.

“When the election is over, regardless of the outcome, it’s important that we are able to say that we had a strong turnout, especially when considering the impact this election will have on the future of GISD, our students, and the community we serve,” he said.

The bond has 12 projects, including $31.4 million to replace Purl Elementary School, $14.8 million to turn Williams Elementary School into an administrative building, $26.1 million in renovations to Tippet Middle School and $27 million to complete a fourth middle school.

If approved, Georgetown residents can expect to see a 5 cent increase to the current tax rate of $1.398 per $100 valuation, said Steve West, the district’s chief financial officer. The owner of a home valued at $100,000 would see a $43 increase in taxes in 2016, which the district calculated using the current homestead exemption of $15,000, according to numbers from the district’s business office. The owner of a home valued at $200,000 would expect to see a $93 increase, a $300,000 house a $143 increase and a $400,000 home would expect to see a $193 increase.

The $160.6 million bond is the largest in the school district’s history, according to district officials.

The school board began weighing a possible election in the spring and compiled a citizens advisory committee to make a recommendation. The 35-member group made up of teachers, parents and business and community leaders met six times to discuss proposed projects for the various campuses. They reviewed current facilities, educational programs, facility assessment findings, demographics reports, district financial information, project cost details and the findings of a community survey to compile a list of school needs and craft their recommendations.

The advisory committee went before the board Aug. 3 and recommended calling for the $160.6 million bond. The GISD board members officially called for the bond Aug. 17.

“From the very beginning of the bond process, it has been our goal to encourage Georgetown parents, staff, and community members to model our civic responsibility to vote—not just in this election but in every election going forward” Brent said. “It was important that we do our part to inform our community about the bond proposal so that they could make an educated decision when casting their ballot.”

In August, Brent said work on a large majority of the projects would start immediately if the bond were approved.

All results are unofficial until canvassed.

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Caitlin covers Cedar Park and Leander city councils and reports on education, transportation, government and business news. She is an alumnus of The University of Texas at Austin. Most recently, Caitlin produced a large-scale investigative project with The Dallas Morning News and led education coverage in the Brazos Valley at The Bryan-College Station Eagle. After interning with Community Impact Newspaper for two summers, she joined the staff as a reporter in 2015.
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