The $150 million bond package on the May 4 ballot would provide Grapevine-Colleyville ISD officials funding they said is essential to update educational and support spaces across the district.

If approved, the funding from the three bond propositions would address the district’s aging infrastructure, maintain its instructional technology effort and update and replace equipment at the swim center, officials said.

District officials have said that due to paying off previous debt early, as well as homes in the district increasing in value, voters can approve these propositions with no increase to the current tax rate.

“GCISD [can] issue $150 million of new bonds without increasing the existing [debt service] tax rate above its current level of $0.1957 cents,” Chief Financial Officer Derick Sibley said.

In a nutshell

Chief Operations Officer Paula Barbaroux said some of the items in proposition A include replacing:
  • Roofs
  • HVAC equipment
  • Sewer lines that have corroded or cracked
  • Buses that are more than 15 years old or have more than 150,000 miles
Chief Technology Officer Kyle Berger said Proposition B contains device refreshments—such as laptops—for staff and students as well as technology for teachers, including interactive whiteboards.

Berger said the useful life for instructional technology includes five years for laptops; five to nine years for interactive whiteboards, 3D printers and other specialty equipment; and 10 years or more for network infrastructure upgrades.

Proposition C would update and replace equipment to address corrosion and other issues at the GCISD swim center.

“When you walk in there, you look up at the ceiling and see the gaping holes,” Colleyville resident Jessica Rajian said at a March 6 community bond meeting. “My daughter gets into the car after swimming and it takes until the next morning for the chlorine smell to get out of the car.”

Barbaroux said the facility, built in 1994, is used six days a week by several groups, including:
  • Student athletes from Colleyville Heritage and Grapevine high schools
  • Youth swim teams
  • First responders and military groups
  • Staff for swim lessons
  • Residents for lap swim and water aerobics
Barbaroux said swim center improvements include adding a chloramine evacuation system to improve indoor air quality, replacing pool-related equipment, replacing HVAC and electrical equipment, replacing retractable bleachers and making ceiling repairs.

“Facilities tend to age in place when you have as many students going through our buildings as we do and using things,” Barbaroux said. “Equipment, by its nature, has a useful life.”

Put in perspective

Sibley said there are three factors that would allow the district to add $150 million in debt without affecting the tax rate.

“First, GCISD’s current bond payments decline over time,” he said.

Second, Sibley said the district’s tax base is anticipated to grow at 6% in each of the next three years and remain constant thereafter, which will generate additional revenue to repay bonds from the same debt service tax rate of $0.1957 per $100 valuation.

Finally, Sibley said GCISD officials plan on using approximately $15 million of the existing debt service fund balance to help subsidize the interest and sinking tax rate, also known as debt service, during fiscal years 2024-25 through 2028-29.

Maintenance and operations, or M&O, budgets fund daily operating costs and recurring expenditures, such as staff salaries, utilities and supplies. Interest and sinking funds can only be used to repay debt for capital projects approved by voters through bond elections.

The backstory

At the March 6 community bond presentation, Superintendent Brad Schnautz said the district’s tax rate is the lowest it has been in 25 years, and it has been reduced by more than 47 cents over the last five years.

This year’s bond is different in scope from GCISD’s last bond in 2016, which came in at just under $250 million. It included a new elementary school, the addition of two multipurpose facilities and a plan to transform former library areas into learning commons.

To get a comprehensive overview of facility conditions and infrastructure needs, Barbaroux said district officials took a multipronged approach.

“The district’s architectural firm conducted facility assessments and interviewed campus leaders,” she said. “Each campus leader and each department leader assessed campus or department equipment, furniture, facilities conditions and systems conditions. The district’s demographer assessed enrollment trends by campus.”

District officials also looked to the long-range planning committee and the bond advisory committee—both of which include community stakeholders and staff members—for their input, Barbaroux said.

“The bond advisory committee reviewed recommendations and determined what items to include in the bond package,” Barbaroux said.

What’s next

The three propositions on the ballot will include the statement, “This is a property tax increase,” per state law. That law was passed to hold school districts to the state’s strict financial responsibility standards.

“Your taxes won’t go up due to the GCISD tax rate, because it’s not changing,” Schnautz said. “Your taxes will go up because your home value will appreciate.”

Should the entire bond, or any of the propositions not pass on May 4, Schnautz said the district could come back in November after gathering information on why an item was not supported to try again.

He compared the facility and infrastructure updates and improvements in this bond to managing home improvement costs.

“My home was built in 1992, and I had to replace my roof [a few] years ago because it was time,” Schnautz said. “If I didn’t, then we’d have some serious problems.”