The Hutto ISD board of trustees voted Thursday night to sell the remaining balance of its voter-approved bond funds to build a ninth-grade center that will open at the end of the 2020 fall semester.

The ninth-grade center will ultimately expand to become the school district’s second high school and will be the first capital project built on a 160-acre plot of land off FM 1660. Other district campuses, including a middle school, an elementary school and an agriculture barn, have been previewed on that same land.

District voters in 2008 approved $128 million in bonds for projects in the district. With tonight’s vote, the district will issue the last remaining $54.9 million of those bond funds.

In a presentation to the board tonight, Pfluger Architects official Jessica Molter said the estimated price tag of the new ninth-grade center is $44 million in hard capital costs and an additional $9.5 million in “soft costs”. Those expenses include design, regulatory costs, management, contingency, technology, furniture, fixtures and equipment.

Altogether, the new campus will cost the district $53.4 million. Hutto ISD Chief Financial Officer Glenn Graham said the remaining $1 million in bond funds serves as a buffer in the chance costs exceed the initial estimates. If that $1 million remains unused, the district retains the flexibility to use them on other voter-approved capital projects.

Bank of Oklahoma serves as the school district’s financial advisors, according to Graham. Josh McLaughlin, a representative from Bank of Oklahoma, presented to the board Thursday ahead of its vote on the item.

McLaughlin outlined several parameters on the bond issuance in his presentation, including a mandate that the interest rate on the bonds not rise above 4.11 percent.

Additionally, the school must sell all of the bonds by mid-March, and it cannot sell more than $54.9 million in bonds.

“The market for Texas district school bonds are still very active,” McLaughlin told the board. “Interest rates are still historically attractive, making this a good time to sells bonds.”

The district will now move to sell the bonds Oct. 5 so the school can receive funds beginning Nov. 6.