On Nov. 2, GISD voters will face five propositions constructed by a Citizens Advisory Committee totaling $381 million across 21 projects.
The largest among them is Proposition A, a $333.4 million package focused on future growth and includes a future learning complex, two new elementary schools, a middle school and designs for a third high school in the district.
“Accommodating for student growth and accommodating for evolving programs is the biggest driver for proposition A,” GISD Superintendent Fred Brent said in an interview with Community Impact. “As the district grows, there’s obviously going to be a need for more seats.”
Along with Proposition A, voters will also vote on Proposition B, $16,500,000 earmarked for technology upgrades and updates; Proposition C, $7,300,000 to renovate the Klett Center for Performing Arts; Proposition D, $23.6 million to construct a swim complex; and Proposition E, $850,000 to renovate the Georgetown High Tennis Complex.
If all five propositions are approved the district estimates a tax impact of $0.026 per $100 valuation.
“We know that any form of tax is a serious conversation and one that must be handled in a very conservative way,” Brent said. “While we have projected there could be a 2.6 penny increase to the tax rate, at the same time, that would happen if we sold all of the bonds, immediately after the election, in a few months and if no property value increases occurred over the next three years.”
According to the presentation by the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) in July, where it recommended the district call for the bond, Mitchell Elementary is expected to be near capacity by the 2022-23 school year, followed by Carver, Cooper and Wolf Ranch elementary schools the following year when Mitchell could be over capacity by 7%. By 2024-25, Carver is projected to be over capacity by 5.3%, Mitchell by 16.8% and Wolf Ranch by 15.5%.
Those projections stem from projected growth of nearly 20% for the district from enrollment of 10,651 in the 2014-15 school year to a projected enrollment of 12,710 for 2021-22.
“I think my overall assessment of prop A [is that] it was the recommendation of the Citizen Advisory Committee and was born out of accommodating growth, meeting aging evolving facilities needs, and updating programs across the district,” Dr, Brent said.
The two new elementary schools in the proposition are budgeted at $57.6 million each but Proposition A also includes design funds to repurpose Benold Middle School into a new, bigger home for Frost Elementary after a new home for Benold is constructed, also utilizing money from the proposition.
Currently, Frost has a capacity of 552, but that would grow to 850 once Benold is converted over.
“It’s about modern learning spaces, it’s about new learning spaces for the students of Frost and Benold Middle School, and it’s also about zoning efficiency through a kind of economy of scale with enrollment capacity for Frost Elementary School,”
This sort of creative realignment carries over into the secondary schools as well.
Currently, Richarte High School, the district’s academic alternative learning school, resides in the annex to Georgetown High. As part of Proposition A, though, the district has plans for an entire Future Ready Learning Complex that not only would house Richarte, but also advanced Career and Technical Education, an early childhood program, health care center and Bridges—the district’s adult transition program.
“The Future Ready Learning Complex was designed with the intention to consolidate some of the programs that we have across the district, the more advanced career and technical education programs we have across the district, that will allow for new student opportunities and expansion of some of those programs,” Brent said. “There’s an economy of scale benefit to having a centrally located career technical education facility when you go to multiple high schools.”
And while construction of a third high school is not included in this bond package, design for a third high school, to join Georgetown and East View down the road, is.
“Richarte High School only has a capacity of about 90 students right now,” Brent said. “It is consuming classroom space at Georgetown High School annex. By building, Richarte High School and the Future Ready Complex, it gives those campuses [their] own space, permanently, that has a library that’s just for them, that has classrooms for them, and it allows Georgetown High School to consume the classroom space in the annex building, so [it] can maximize its enrollment before building a third comprehensive high school.”
Brent also highlighted the Eagle Wings program—which offers child care to district employees—as an important component as it “will allow better accessibility for all district staff.”
“Our data shows that comprehensive high school No. 3 is not too far down the road and having this program will allow us to create more space ... for the freshmen and sophomore level programs, by moving junior- and senior-level programs to the Future Ready Complex should it be built,” Brent said. “As the district continues to grow, we’re making efforts to consolidate some of our more advanced career and technical education programs for depth of offerings and efficiency.”
In addition to new construction, land acquisitions, $10 million, and future planning, Proposition A also includes plans for HVAC replacements, $5.6 million, and roof replacements, $3.3 million, at select campuses.
The other large component in Proposition A is $10.3 million for agriculture barn improvements at Georgetown High and a new facility at East View.
“[Future Farmers of America] is a phenomenal program,” Brent said. “[It’s] one of the best student leadership programs that we have. And accommodating the needs of that program ... was really important to the Citizens Advisory Committee. Giving the students of East View High School their own agricultural center will be meeting a need that the committee felt was important to consider.”
The CAC had over 60 volunteers from the community that, according to its presentation in July, “represented a diverse cross-section of [the] community and included parents, business owners, senior citizens, community leaders” and new and long-term residents of Georgetown.
“GISD is fortunate to have that kind of representation for this endeavor,” CAC member Gloria Reyes said in July.
“I’m really thankful for the Citizens Advisory Committee and volunteers,” Brent said. “I’m thankful for the registered voters who have provided us survey data and I’m thankful for the efforts of everyone involved that keep this process moving and, to date, has allowed us to stay on pace with the growth by accommodating the need for new spaces and updating aging and evolving spaces.”
While Proposition A represents the largest component of the bond package, the other propositions feature their own hallmarks.
Proposition B focuses on technology for the district and includes $9.3 million for student and staff devices so that the district can remain in line with a four- or five-year refresh cycle for its device for every student and staff member, according to district spokesperson Melinda Brasher.
“Now that we are a one-to-one technology district, there’s a replacement cycle that the district tries to honor, and this proposition was built with that in mind,” Brent said.
The total price tag also includes $3.2 million for data center equipment, $2.6 million for technology infrastructure and $1.4 million for technology equipment. That includes establishing a data supplier redundancy.
The Klett Center for Performing Arts was constructed in 1999 and received an update on the technical side in the $150.5 million 2018 bond package.
In this round, the district is looking to update the facilities themselves.
“One of the things that we do with our bond elections is, in an attempt to keep from minimum tax rate implications, we do multiple projects in stages. For example, we did not feel like we could have completely renovated the technology and the fixtures that are in this proposition within the three-year window of the bonds, and so, we did the work that we could accommodate for three years and now we’re recommending phase two of the renovation,” Brent said. “That’s just about trying to be efficient and transparent with bond referendums, and this will be just the next phase of renovating the PAC.”
The proposition calls for $7.3 million in renovations to the facility.
While the main bond proposition passed in 2018, a separate proposition for a new swim complex failed to garner enough support to pass. With that in mind, the CAC again asked for a proposition to construct a swim complex different in scope—previously an indoor complex, this calls for an outdoor pool—with a $23.6 million price.
“We wanted to make sure that if the district did build a swim facility, that it was comprehensive enough [for] multiple high school programs,” Brent said. “We knew there was an operational cost and management to that site we felt would be in the best interest of the district to have a third-party partner to help consume those costs. The YMCA was a natural partner to consider, and in that negotiation of a memorandum of understanding, the YMCA proposed that they come in and build a YMCA facility for community access around the swim facility that will be built by the district.”
GISD’s contribution to this project, proposed next to McCoy Elementary, would include a 50-meter pool—in line with competitive standards—and a diving well. The YMCA would then add a facilities building, a splash pad and recreation pool, and programming to include lessons, lifeguarding and water safety instruction.
“While the district’s No. 1 focus is to secure long-term swim facilities for multiple high school program needs, the YMCA would help fund the operating costs of that facility on a day-to-day basis, by having a community-based program and facility,” Brent said.
The final proposition on the ballot is a renovation of the tennis facilities at Georgetown High School with a projected cost of $850,000.
“The tennis courts of Georgetown ISD have not had a facelift that we can recall,” Brent said. “There’s been some resurfacing, but no major reconstruction.”
Proposition E calls for expanded walkways between courts, fence work to improve security and sightlines for spectators, and new concessions and •storage buildings.