Argyle ISD officials have begun looking at details of 2022 bond projects, including site locations and designs, after seeing nearly 500 new students since the past school year.

The Argyle community passed a $267.89 million bond during this year’s May election. The bond included three propositions, which all passed. This is the sixth bond to pass in the district in the last 25 years.

With the latest bond, the district will build two elementary schools, the district’s first middle school, a stadium and an indoor activity center at Argyle High School.

“I’m very grateful to the community for passing all three propositions,” Superintendent Telena Wright said. “I’m very pleased that we’re going to be able to build the two elementaries and the middle school.”

The bond approval comes on the cusp of the district completing a number of projects from the previous 2017 bond. That bond included the new administration building, Argyle South Elementary School, Argyle West Elementary School and Phase 2 of Argyle High School.

The administration building and the elementary schools opened to the public for the 2022-23 school year.

“I do want to express very deep gratitude to this community, to voters in this community for supporting these bonds,” Wright said. “Because that’s made it possible for us to do this. Without the support of the community, we wouldn’t have been able to.”

Need for facilities

The need for the new facilities comes as the population continues to see rapid student growth, according to district officials.

AISD Board President Sam Slaton said bonds are “hugely important” for the district’s strategic plan, specifically as it sees student growth.

AISD, during the 2021-22 school year, enrolled 4,292 students. This school year, the district has 4,950 students, but it is projected to nearly double in the next few years, growing to 8,066 students by the 2027-28 school year, according to district officials.

“Being able to keep up with facility needs to be able to keep up with infrastructure needs [and] educational needs for our students is paramount,” Slaton said.

Proposition A was passed with 69.57% of voter approval. The proposition is $221.09 million and includes elementary school No. 4, elementary school No. 5, the district’s first middle school, funding for future land, design fees for middle school No. 2, buses and a number of other projects.

Proposition B was passed with 57.56% of voter approval. The proposition funds the new stadium construction for $26.92 million.

Proposition C was passed with 55.74% voter approval. The proposition funds the new indoor activity center for $19.89 million.

Without new facilities through bonds, the district would have had to look at other options to avoid overcrowding. Typically districts use portable buildings as a temporary solution when overcrowding becomes an issue, Wright said.

AISD is a young school district at just over two decades old, Slaton said. The district used to not have a high school, and when students reached that level they would need to go to Northwest or Denton ISDs.

Outside the classroom, growing pains can be felt at the district’s sports fields, said Todd Rodgers, AISD athletic director and head football coach.

The district hosted its first football game of the season on Aug. 26, and the crowd filled the existing field’s stands with record attendance, Rodgers said.

“We were able to get a little over 5,000 in the stadium the other day. Obviously, that exceeds our seating capacity,” he said. “That was basically standing room only.”

The stadium seats about 5,000 people, and the new stadium will nearly double it with a 9,000-person capacity, Rodgers said.

“We had record attendance and record sales at our concession stands. The growth is real; it’s here, it’s present,” he said. “We’re so glad [the stadium has] been approved, and we’re excited for the construction.”

Bond history

Using bonds to fund district growth is not new in AISD.

In addition to this year, the community has approved bonds for the district in 1997, 2002, 2007, 2014 and 2017.

District officials were not sure the bond would pass, especially at a time when people are concerned about rising costs, inflation and economic instability. At Northwest ISD, its $986.6 million bond proposal failed in November 2020.

“In a time when a lot of bonds aren’t getting passed in the state of Texas, it’s great to have the support from our community, with the voters that really have shown that they want to invest in our students and invest in our district for many years to come,” Slaton said.

Past bond packages have included projects ranging from new buildings, building maintenance, technology and transportation needs. However, the bonds also looked ahead at potential needs of the district, Wright said.

For example, the 2022 bond includes funding for design fees associated with a second middle school for $4.96 million. Though a second middle school has not been passed, the design fees associated with it allow the district to plan ahead, Slaton said.

The district, which opened in 2002, was a UIL Class 2A school district with about 750 students, and now it is in its first year as a UIL Class 5A district with nearly 5,000 students, he said.

“And over the next five years, we’re supposed to double that,” Slaton.

Looking ahead

Before the district can break ground on its newest approved facilities, officials must first iron out the details of design and location.

The district approved architect Corgan, who designed West and South elementary schools, for the upcoming projects. The same general contractor, who built South Elementary, will also build the new elementary schools.

District officials said they still do not know where the facilities will be located, but that is anticipated to be determined in the next few months.

Implementation of the 2022 bond items will be overseen by a bond oversight committee, Wright said. The committee is made up of community professionals in design and architecture fields as well as general contractors, people who have some knowledge base that impacts construction. Argyle ISD parent Josh Combs serves as the board chair.

The committee will oversee the bond expenditures and general construction of the projects. The committee was first started after the 2017 bond to oversee those projects, Wright said.

Even with the passage of the bond, AISD taxpayers will see a tax decrease with the district’s 2022-23 rates.

The maintenance and operations tax rate is scheduled to drop from $0.915 to $0.8976 per $100 valuation. The interest and sinking rate, which is responsible for funding bonds, will increase to $0.50.

“We have responsibly grown, and we’re going to need to continue to responsibly grow, and we do have a vision set forth for the next two-plus decades, and it’s going to take community support to make that happen,” Slaton said.