Voters will decide Georgetown ISD’s $166 million bond package Nov. 6


Georgetown ISD residents will vote Nov. 6 on a $166 million school bond package—which is about $6 million
more than a bond election approved by GISD voters in 2015—making the new proposal the largest in district history.

The bond package, approved unanimously in August by GISD trustees, is split in two propositions, including one to fund two new elementary schools and expand Ford Elementary School in northwest Georgetown as well as security, safety, transportation and technology upgrades. A second proposition asks for $15.5 million for a GISD-dedicated swimming facility.

A citizens advisory committee—composed of 70-plus district stakeholders—made recommendations to the board Aug. 13. The board accepted the recommendation without changes.

“We looked at the needs of all students, both students who are currently in the district and students who will be in the district 10 years from now,” said Scott Firth, a committee member who presented recommendations to the board.

If approved, the bond package would finance 13 total projects within the 16-school district.

Early voting will run Oct. 22-Nov. 2, and Election Day is Nov. 6. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 9.

New schools in Georgetown

The bond package’s largest line item of $74 million will add two new elementary schools—one slated to be built in the Wolf Ranch development—as well as an expansion of Ford Elementary School.

GISD is facing exponential growth as Georgetown and the surrounding areas grow.

District data predicts that in five years GISD enrollment—which is at about 11,800 students today—will increase by 20 percent, adding about 2,300 additional students.

Carver Elementary School will be over capacity by the 2019-20 school year, and Ford Elementary School will have reached capacity by 2020-21, according to GISD. A new middle school will also be needed in the near future, district data show.

Swimming facility proposition

The second proposition in the bond package asks voters to approve 15.5 million for a new swimming facility in a yet-to-be announced location.

Firth said the facility would support students who participate in aquatic sports and provide a space for other students to learn to swim.

GISD had previously discussed a joint-venture with the city of Georgetown for a new aquatic center in San Gabriel Park, but the facility proposed by the bond is solely a district project, GISD Communications Director Melinda Brasher said.

No tax-rate increase

The trustees voted in August to maintain the district’s property tax rate of $1.4090 per $100 valuation.

The bond package does not include a tax-rate increase, as increasing property values allow for GISD to bring in more revenue from taxes without raising the rate. GISD Chief Financial Officer Pan Sanchez said the amount of taxes paid is directly related to the property value.

GISD’s most recently assessed average home value increased from $311,771 to $325,538, which equates to an additional $185.25 in homeowner taxes for fiscal year 2018-19 compared to the previous year, according to the district.

Alvin Lankford of Williamson County Appraisal District said school districts can maintain tax revenues even if they choose to lower tax rates. Home values are solely following market trends, and it does not mean taxing entities are forced to correlate with it, he said.

Sanchez said lowering GISD’s tax rate risks affecting the district’s state funding, which is directly tied to the school district’s maintenance and operations, or M&O, tax rate. If the tax rate is too low, the district will receive less funding, Sanchez said.

Georgtown ISD’s 2015 bond

GISD’s last bond election was approved by voters in 2015 and provided $160.6 million for construction of Wagner Middle School and a new building for Purl Elementary School along with technology upgrades, secure building entrances, new athletic turf and land purchases.

The district’s financial team refinanced district debt accumulated over the past six years, which decreased the amount of interest owed by GISD by $23 million, Sanchez said.

Following the completion of the 2015 bond projects, the district also found itself with about $10 million in surplus bond revenue. Of that amount, $3 million went toward a new west bus terminal and the addition of secure entrances at Georgetown and East View high schools over the summer.

The remaining $7 million in the surplus will go toward other bond projects approved by voters in 2015, Sanchez said

What’s in the bond?

Georgetown ISD’s board of trustees have called a $166 million school bond election. Here is where that money would go:

Proposition 1

  • $74 million, elementary school development: Add two new elementary schools including one in the Wolf Ranch development. Expand Ford Elementary School.
  • $19.5 million, repair/replace aging building infrastructure: Replace roofs. Replace HVAC systems and controls in GISD buildings.
  • $14.5 million, athletic upgrades: Renovate Tippit Middle School Athletics. Add athletic turf and tracks to all middle schools except Wagner. Renovate the field house, softball field and practice field at East View High School. Replace Georgetown High School’s baseball infield and make the stands accessible.
  • $10.6 million, land acquisition: Buy land for future campuses before prices rise and the number of parcels becomes scarce.
  • $9.1 million, safety and security: Install keyless access entry. Replace fire alarm systems. Install security cameras and radios that coordinate with local law enforcement. Add fencing around school parameters. Enclose walkway from Georgetown High School to the Georgetown High Annex.
  • $6 million, technology: Replace staff and student devices. Replace Wi-Fi access points. Replace district equipment, including printers and copy machines.
  • $4.9 million, renovations at Forbes Middle School and East View High School: Convert multiple classrooms at Forbes and East View into flexible learning spaces.
  • $4.3 million, fine arts investments: Update lighting and sound equipment in the Klett Center for the Performing Arts. Buy new band and orchestra instruments.
  • $2 million, prepare for a new middle school: Plan and design a new Benold Middle School to accommodate a growing population.
  • $2.1 million, new buses: Buy 21 buses.
  • $2 million, plan and design a new CTE center: Plan and design a centralized Career and Technical Education center to increase efficiency.
  • $1.5 million, future-ready learning classroom experience: Create flexible learning spaces. Update furniture and equipment.

Proposition 2

  • $15.5 million, new swim facility: Build a district swim facility for competitive swim teams.

Source: Georgetown ISD/Community Impact Newspaper

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  1. Thanks for the details of what the bond will buy. However, I find no mention of when the 2015 previously approved bonds will be retired, nor is there any mention of when this current bond package will be retired either. Bastrop County about 10 years ago attempted to fleece the voters there by purchasing school buses on a 30-yr bond when the average lifespan of a school bus is only 12. Of course, the voters there rejected it overwhelmingly. In order to better understand this bond election which is being financed largely by inflated property values yielding higher property tax payments from those of us on fixed incomes, throw us a bone and tell us how long we as a community will be indebted for these buses, among other infrastructure items.

  2. This seems to be excessive and wasteful. Get back to basics and stop getting high from the new found tax revenue. Instead of finding ways to spend self generated revenue from appraisal increases give the taxpayer a reduction in tax rate and build basic facilities rather than these Cadillac campuses. And $16 million for a swimming pool??? Maybe would support $4 million but no more.

  3. Where is the information on by whom and how these multi-million dollar bonds are paid back? Also, who decided how much each item was to cost? And who will monitor if the funds are spent wisely or recklessly? Takes a little more than a degree from Syracuse to actually get and disperse all the information needed for the public to make a wise decision.

Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.
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