Planning for the bond in NBISD has been ongoing since February as the district considers options for new campuses and plans to update aging facilities.
In July the Facilities Planning Committee presented a $450 million bond to the board, but district staff and board members removed some items from the proposal to reduce potential tax increases, according to the district.
“We have to think of the taxpayer,” board trustee Wes Clark said during the Aug. 9 meeting. “We’ve never seen this kind of large bond before.”
The bond is broken into Proposition A, which allocates $321.3 million for building new facilities and updating existing buildings; Proposition B, which allocates $20.1 million for athletic facilities; and Proposition C, which allocates $6.6 million for technology and vehicles.
Work on the projects included in the bond is expected to take 7-10 years, according to the district.
Should all three propositions pass, the bond has the potential to raise the district’s interest and sinking tax rate by a maximum of $0.015 per $100 valuation.
Identifying key projects
A 46-member Facilities Planning Committee partnered with district staff to create the bond proposal, Superintendent Cade Smith said.
The team examined areas where schools are experiencing or are anticipated to experience capacity issues and evaluated existing facilities in need of upgrades during the bond planning process.
“We’ve got capacity issues at some elementary campuses. And then we have to complete Long Creek High School,” Smith said.
Long Creek High School is the Ninth Grade Center, and the district plans to include 10th grade during the 2024-25 school year before adding subsequent grades in the following years.
The district plans to expand the existing facility to accommodate up to 1,500 students, Smith said, and more than $100 million has been set aside in the bond proposal for the complete expansion of the campus.
Also included in the bond is $42 million in funding to build a new elementary school to relieve projected student growth at Veramendi Elementary School and Lamar Elementary School.
"This is eventually going to touch and benefit every student within the district," said Francisco Dionisio, an eighth-grade teacher at New Braunfels Middle School and member of the planning committee during a July 28 board meeting.
Building a new campus would allow the schools to maintain a 22-1 student to teacher ratio and ensure students are able to attend school within their campus zone, Lamar Elementary Principal Chris Russell said.
While the schools are not yet at capacity, housing developments under construction within the attendance zones and enrollment projections for the area show the student population will outgrow existing schools, Russell said.
“I can only put students into a classroom that I have on campus,” Russell said. “If they are Lamar Elementary zone students and families that no longer can attend the campus that they are zoned for, then I don't feel like we're doing very good justice for them in the long run.”
New Braunfels High School upgrades divided into two
During bond discussions, Smith said committee members and staff identified the need to revitalize New Braunfels High School.
The high school opened in 1963 and has undergone several renovations, but many in the district believe it is time for a more thorough update.
“You get these aging facilities and at some point you've got to make the determination of, ‘Do we keep trying to renovate it or do we just start over and build anew?’” Smith said.
In June, Stantec Architecture presented a plan to the bond committee to replace the existing facility over two phases that would keep students on campus while completing portions of the project.
The proposal would create an entirely new building, add 1,400 new parking spaces and be completed between 2026-28.
During the July bond presentation, committee members recommended including both portions of the NBHS project in the 2021 bond, but board members on Aug. 9 elected to only include funding for Phase 1 and some design work for Phase 2.
“We’re not nixing anything here, we’re just being better stewards of the taxpayers money,” board member Eric Bergquist said during the meeting.
Phase 1 will include the construction of a fine arts facility, upgrades to athletics facilities and more while Phase 2 will likely be included on a future bond.
As the region continues to grow, Smith said the need for new campuses and the expansion of existing campuses will continue to be a priority for district leaders as projects are planned.
“It's finding the balance of the expectations of our community and our kids here, and our staff ... and what do we expect from our facilities in managing the growth and taking care of our taxpayer dollars,” Smith said.