$758M FISD bond proposed

Frisco ISD could ask voters to pass first bond in 8 years

Dating back to 1963, Frisco ISD residents have never failed to pass a bond referendum. In May, they will most likely get a chance to decide whether to continue that trend.

Through four bond elections over an eight-year period from 1998 to 2006, voters approved nearly $1.7 billion to support the school district.

Frisco ISD's demographic projections estimate the district will reach 66,000 students by 2020.

To accommodate the growth, the Frisco ISD Board of Trustees in February is expected to place a $758 million bond referendum on the May 10 ballot.

Co-chairs for the 27-member bond committee, Buddy Minett and Debbie Pasha, said Frisco's projected growth means the district has no choice but to build—and therefore fund—new schools.

The committee has been working since September on the proposal.

"Retail, commercial is coming," Pasha said. "It's coming because of schools, and how the schools perform, the students perform. The only way we can support this growth, which we know is coming, is to approve the buildings and the facilities that are included in this proposal."

The bond would pay for an additional eight elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools, plus other building additions, instructional and student support services, special programs and support facility renovations.

The co-chairs said the main selling point for the bond is that it includes only the necessities. Almost 86 percent, or $648.7 million, would go to fund the construction of schools and instructional facilities.

"That number [86 percent] is high compared to other school districts," Minett said. "It's not for fluff or non-essential things. We focused on what we absolutely have to have."

Board trustee John Hoxie complimented the committee for its focus on essential buildings and services in the bond proposal.

"There are a lot of things we probably should build, but we're not going to," Hoxie said. "A lot of people want another natatorium. But we're not going to do that because it's instructional support, it's buildings for kids that is priority here."

Richard Wilkinson, deputy superintendent of business services, said the district has spent on average $10 million to $12 million a month from the $298 million in bonds passed in 2006.

Those funds are committed for expenditure by August 2015 and will take the district to 52,000 students.

"We are the victims of our own success," Minett said. "We've created something that is very desirable so people want to move here, so we have to keep building."

Frisco ISDs current tax rate is $1.46 per $100 property valuation. The debt service tax rate portion is 42 cents. Passing a $758 million bond would mean the debt service tax rate would increase a maximum of 8 cents throughout the length of the bond, Wilkinson said.

Frisco ISD's earliest recorded bond was in 1963 when voters passed a $222,000 referendum, which allowed for the construction of the original Acker Elementary.

Ten years later, a $1.2 million bond paid for a high school, which is now Staley Middle School.

Other bonds were passed in 1980, 1985, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2000 and 2003, with the most recent passing in 2006.