Facilities plan recommendations, proposed 2018 tax rate: 3 things to know from Monday's Fort Bend ISD board of trustees meeting

Fort Bend ISD approved the purchase of 30 acres of land as a site of a potential future middle school.

Fort Bend ISD approved the purchase of 30 acres of land as a site of a potential future middle school.

Fort Bend ISD district leaders discussed options for future use of district facilities, listening to recommendations such as constructing new schools and classrooms and changing programs to balance enrollment.

The board of trustees also set a public hearing date regarding the proposed tax rate for 2018 and considered a construction contract for Elementary School 51.

1) Facilities planning

The board of trustees received recommendations from staff May 7 related to the district’s facilities master plan, and options included building classroom additions onto existing schools, constructing new campuses, repurposing facilities and implementing new programs.

The facilities steering committee did not recommend demolishing Meadows, Lakeview or Sugar Mill elementary schools and permanently relocating those students.

Although some plans may require rezoning of school boundaries and programming changes, the adoption of such requires separate processes of development and community engagement, said Beth Martinez, chief of staff and strategic planning for FBISD. If approved, a few proposals may be implemented as early as fall 2019.

“These recommendations are focused on facilities that require decisions that impact capital funding,” said Scott Leopold, FBISD’s hired facilities planner and partner of consulting firm Cooperative Strategies. “Every facility is likely going to have some kind of project or renovation that’s attributed to it in a future possible bond cycle, but those actual projects and the scope of renovations will be determined in the bond planning process.”

Overall, projected expenditures of the proposed of the list of recommendations total an approximate $176.4 million.

Proposed projects include expanding capacity at the upcoming Elementary School 51; rebuilding Meadows and Lakeview elementary schools; repurposing Barrington and Blue Ridge elementary schools to provide temporary accommodations; building a new elementary school to relieve existing ones in the Sienna Plantation community; and constructing additions at various campuses, including Commonwealth, Parks, Palmer, Neill and Madden elementary schools.

In lieu of adding classrooms, the district may choose to construct two new schools altogether for a long-term solution, Leopold said. However, the funding needed to support new construction and land acquisition would increase as a result.

“It’s just one of those things where [you decide], ‘Can you get through the next three years—or however long it takes to get that new school online—without an addition,’” Leopold said.

Staff projects the construction of one new elementary school to be worth $40.64 million and the fixed annual cost—related to staffing and operation—to be $800,000-$1 million.

“This is one of the recommendations that comes to the long-term viability of our operating budget,” FBISD Superintendent Charles Dupre said. “It’s always going to be more fiscally prudent and responsible, in my view, to do incremental costs by doing an addition at a school because the minute you add a full-scale new building, you’ve added a permanent long-term investment that we could have trouble sustaining unless the state comes in and really gives us a miracle in long-term funding, which we don’t expect is going to happen.”

 

2) 2018 Proposed tax rate

The FBISD board proposed to maintain its current total tax rate of $1.32 per $100 taxable value, allocating $1.06 for maintenance and operations and $0.26 for debt service.

A public budget meeting to receive public comments regarding the proposed tax rate is set for June 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the FBISD administration building.

3) Capital projects

Administrators are also seeking board approval for funding to replace two gymnasium floors at Fort Settlement Middle School and to negotiate a construction contract with Drymalla Construction Company to begin building Elementary School 51 in the Aliana community, costing $339,721 and $29.75 million, respectively.
By Renee Yan
Renee Yan graduated May 2017 from the University of Texas in Arlington with a degree in journalism, joining Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in July.