The PfISD board of trustees voted Thursday to approve "a proposed maximum rate" for the maintenance & operations tax rate and the debt services tax rate for an overall decrease in the total tax rate paid by PfISD voters from $1.54 to $1.52 per $100 valuation. PfISD Chief Financial Officer Ed Ramos outlined the details of the tax rate reduction at a June 22 board of trustees meeting, resulting in an estimated $60 in savings for residents with a $300,000 home. This change in tax rate will be on PfISD voters' ballots Nov. 6.
Taking this potential change in tax rate into account, Chris Davenport, co-chairman of PfISD’s Citizen’s Facilities Advisory Committee, presented a facilities master plan totaling $326 million to the district’s board of trustees. The plan would serve as a prioritized list of projects to be funded by a bond, should the board of trustees decide to add it to the November ballot. The trustees reviewed the plan but have not yet made any official motion to add it to the ballot.
As currently budgeted, Davenport said the bond proposal would not require a tax rate increase and could still be fully funded if the proposed reduced tax rate is passed by voters as well. Both the reduced tax rate and the bond proposal would have to be approved by PfISD voters as separate ballot items.
Among top priorities in the master plan proposal were the construction of two new elementary schools and one new middle school. New construction costs would total approximately $157 million, Davenport said. Other investments would include $85 million in updates to aging facilities, $8 million in increased security measures, $24 million in technology upgrades, $18 million in fine arts funding and $14 million to purchase a fleet of school buses, $5 million in career and technical education funding and $8 million in athletic facility funding.
The committee, which is composed of PfISD parents, staff and other community members, compiled the plan with the assistance of architectural firm Huckabee Architects and consulted surveys given to area community members.
A primary motivation for the construction of three new schools along with the other upgrades was the school district’s rapid growth, Davenport said. According to the city demographer, PfISD is expected to add 798 students during the 2018-19 school year with about 40 percent attending elementary school, Ramos said at the June 22 meeting.
Trustee Renee Mitchell said she wonders if adding three new elementary schools instead of two would be wise to “get ahead of the growth.”
Both Superintendent Doug Killian and Davenport said the most cost-effective plan may be to build two elementary schools and redraw feeder patterns to better distribute elementary school students throughout district schools.
The last bond that PfISD voters approved was a $287 million bond issued in 2014 that included funds for the construction of Vernagene Mott Elementary School, Timmerman Elementary School, Weiss High school and a 10,000-seat district football stadium.