Voters within Eanes ISD approved a new $80 million bond in May: Here is what that means

The End Pay to Play petition took aim at campaign contribution policy in the city of Houston.

The End Pay to Play petition took aim at campaign contribution policy in the city of Houston.

Image description
LTW-06-19-2-1
Image description
LTW-06-19-2-2
Image description
LTW-06-19-2-3
Image description
LTW-06-19-2-4
Image description
LTW-06-19-2-5
Image description
LTW-06-19-2-6
The $80 million Eanes ISD bond package has potential to result in contributions to the entire community—not just the student population.

The bond was approved May 4 by 82.52%, or 2,705 residents, voting in favor and 573 against, constituting the largest successful bond in at least 13 years. The previous three—passed in 2006, 2011 and 2015—were all in the $50 million range.

Funds will go toward projects falling into five categories. The student programs and support category includes updating uniforms, classroom audio and video technology, student and staff devices, library renovations, and lighting and technology in the Performing Arts Center. At $28 million, it is tied with the facilities category for the largest allocated budget.

Facilities include campus painting, flooring, roofing, plumbing, electrical, artificial turf, and heating and air conditioning projects.

“These are things we just need to do on a regular basis,” Assistant Superintendent Jeff Arnett said during a community presentation on the bond. “Much like you have to maintain your homes, we have to periodically maintain and refurbish our campuses.”

Arnett said every school in the district will see some improvement and recognition of what is on the bond.

Carrying an $8 million allocation, safety and security projects include perimeter fencing, campus emergency notification systems, security cameras, cybersecurity infrastructure and improved fire alarm systems.

Energy efficiency and conservation projects are getting $5 million and include LED lighting and lighting control sensors. The category dubbed instructional, co-curricular and extracurricular spaces garnered the most discussion and public comment before the package was approved.

For $11 million, the Westlake High School campus is slated for an aquatics center, robotics expansion and wrestling space, but debt will not be issued for the projects until the district determines a facility is feasible and realistic to construct, Arnett said.

Permitting from cities and Travis County are also needed before debt is issued, and each entity has its own zoning and permitting process with regulations, standards and codes to adhere to. Ideally, revenue from the aquatics center would offset its maintenance and operations costs, Arnett said. The district uses a pool in Rollingwood, but the rental agreement is likely ending after the 2019-20 school year.

“We felt the time was right to propose an aquatics center,” he said. “We’ve researched the greater Austin area and don’t believe another space would be able to accommodate our swim team. Certainly none would be convenient for our students to travel to each day for practices and training.”

The natatorium would be a center the entire community could utilize, Arnett said, adding the district envisions programs for various age groups being offered.

“That’s consistent with some of the other facilities in the community,” he said. “Look at the Westlake Athletic & Community Center. It does and will continue to provide rental income, and students use it extensively along with the community.”

Eanes ISD will keep every dollar approved in the bond and spend 100% of it on the allocated projects. If the district chose to fund projects using its maintenance and operations money, two-thirds of that budget would go back to the state through recapture.

“That’s why we propose a bond every four or five years,” Arnett said. “So we can take those funds and use 100% of them toward projects being proposed.”

Holly Noel, whose children attend Cedar Creek Elementary School, said the district did a good job of explaining the connection between passing bonds and protecting teachers.

“Teacher compensation and classroom size are incredibly important to our parents,” Noel said. “About half of this bond is marked to fund necessary repairs and expenses. While these are not the most exciting aspects of the bond, using bond dollars to pay for these necessary expenditures frees up the maintenance and operations revenue that we do have to pay and retain our teachers.”

Because of recapture and the high rate Eanes ISD is subject to, residents need to better understand that school finance for the district is not like home or corporate or other government finance, said Blake Billman, a former EISD revenue committee member and parent of a Hill Country Middle School student.

“This is one of the rare instances where you should borrow the maximum allowed to pay for what you need,” he said. “Even after interest, it’s cheaper than a 66% recapture rate where we would need $100 to pay for a $33 dollar expense.”

Despite the fact they do not account for the majority of the bond fund allocation, much of the focus on the bond has been on the sports facilities, Billman said.

Everything in the proposal is important, he said, adding for residents who do not have kids, keeping EISD as one of the top districts in the state is one of the best ways to ensure properties remain valuable, as most Westlake home listings mark EISD as a selling point. Billman said there is even more infrastructure spending the district could execute to help its long-term finances, such as building a parking garage for the high school so it can sell spots versus kids parking in surrounding neighborhoods.

With a May bond, certain procurement processes lend to a limited number of projects that can be completed over the summer months, EISD Chief Operations Officer Jeremy Trimble said. District staff has identified several projects that can be completed over the summer months and others that can be started.

Prior to approval and during discussions on how much the bond should be for and what it should fund, trustees and administration often factored in the possibility of seeking another bond several years from now.

“Everything has a lifespan,” Trimble said. “We have a general idea of when projects such as technology, roofing, painting, flooring and heating and air conditioning projects will be on the replacement cycle, so that helps us plan ahead.”

Monitoring that replacement cycle is the foundation on which a bond is built, Trimble said.

The Envision Eanes group has just begun to study the feasibility of a possible future bond. While the district will have a general idea of what technology needs and maintenance projects could be on that bond, district officials do not know what, if anything else, would be proposed or what the amount would be, Trimble said.

Though it is too early to speculate, this may become a more specific focus of Envision Eanes over the next two to three years, he said.
SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

The Atlas 14 rainfall study found Austin to be at a much higher flood risk than previously understood.
Acknowledging expanded risk, Austin moves to prohibit additional density in city’s flood-prone areas

A recent federal flood risk study found Austin's flood risk to be significantly higher than previously understood.

Three new businesses are open or coming soon to Bee Cave's Hill Country Galleria. (Courtesy Giant Noise)
Three businesses coming to or now open at the Hill Country Galleria

Runaway Luna Lifestyle and more are projected to open the Hill Country Galleria.

Ladies of Charity Lake Travis held its groundbreaking event Nov. 14 at the site of its new thrift shop location at 440 Medical Parkway Drive. (Brian Rash, Community Impact Newspaper)
Ladies of Charity Lake Travis Thrift Shop holds groundbreaking for new location

Ladies of Charity Lake Travis held its groundbreaking event Thursday, Nov. 14, at the site of its new thrift shop location at 440 Medical Parkway Drive, Lakeway.

The city of Austin authorized the purchase of a Rodeway Inn at 2711 S. I-35 on Nov. 14. The city plans to convert the property into a homeless shelter. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
City Council green lights $8 million Rodeway Inn plan for homeless shelter transition, vows to address crime in the area

South Austin neighbors raised concerns that criminal activity in the area will put homeless individuals who enter the shelter at risk.

Mirabelle opened a new Lakeway location Oct. 16. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Mirabelle Spa opens in Lakeway

Mirabelle face, body and skin spa opens a new Lakeway location.

Lady Caroline Cosmetics was founded by Caroline Wiley, a 14 year old Lakeway resident. (Courtesy Kristi Jones)
14-year-old Lakeway resident launches cosmetics company

Lady Caroline Cosmetics feautres organic, vegan and crulety free skincare products

West Lake Hills
West Lake Hills receives planning excellence award

West Lake Hills' Zonning and Planning Comission is recognized for its excellence in professional planning.

Community members examine updated zoning maps at land development code town hall in October.
Land development code rewrite heads to City Council for final approval, marking home stretch of nearly 7-year process

Austin's long-awaited land development code rewrite is heading to City Council for final approval.

Crews work on updating a section of I-35 in Central Texas (Courtesy TxDOT)
Central Texas transportation agencies investing millions in I-35 for new lanes, intersection improvements aimed at aiding mobility

About 20 miles of I-35 through Central Texas will see an infusion of $400 million in state and federal funding to add one to two additional lanes in an effort to improve mobility.

The Wayback Cafe and Cottages will host its first annual tree-lighting event Dec. 12.(Courtesy Carley Page Photography)
The Wayback Cafe and Cottages celebrates one-year anniversary in Bee Cave

Bee Cave's The Wayback Cafe & Cottages will celebrate its anniversary with a tree lighting event.

Sonesta Bee Cave Hotel owner Adrian Overstreet said he spoke with representatives from PR Boutique after the Nov. 12 meeting, and he anticipates a reworked proposal fitting the new $500,000 budget to be in to City Manager Clint Garza's office by the end of this week. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Bee Cave scraps agreement to implement $1 million branding campaign, votes in favor of $500,000 plan

City Council voted to authorize an agreement with the PR Boutique and Tradecraft Inc., firms that will implement a comprehensive branding campaign for Bee Cave.

Back to top