Outsized population growth in the oil patch is being met with an outsized school bond proposal for 2019.
At Monday night’s Midland Independent School District board meeting, trustees were presented with a detailed bond proposal that includes three ballot initiatives over ten years, totaling $910.3 million in principal cost only. The first bond was recommended for May 2019’s ballot at $545.8 million; the second for May 2023 at $196.5 million; and the third for May 2026 at $168 million.
If approved, the bonds would drastically raise MISD’s outstanding debt which, according to the Texas Bond Review Board, totaled $335 million as of 2017.
The proposal was presented Monday by MISD Chief Operations Officer James Riggen, who led a thirty-member “Facility Master Planning Committee” comprised of public members, MISD staff, two MISD board members, and area planning experts. The committee has met regularly since January to discuss and draft a facilities proposal that addresses the district’s capacity woes; during these meetings, according to Riggen, the committee agreed to the highest of three bond options presented.
The included projects were based on an estimated 2.5 percent student growth rate over the next ten years, adding nearly 10,000 students between 2018 and 2028. It also factors in readjusting MISD’s grade structure to the more traditional configuration of pre-kindergarten through 5th grade elementary schools, 6th through 8th grade middle schools, and 9th through 12th grade high schools. The current MISD grade structure includes Pre-K through 6th grade elementary schools, 7th through 8th grade junior high schools, 9th grade freshman high schools, and 10th through 12th grade senior high schools.
The May 2019 bond proposal includes:
- New High School – $187.5 M
- Midland High School Replacement – $187.5 M
- New School Land Purchase/Development – $15 M
- New Middle School – $64.5 M
- Partner/Public School (i.e. in-district charter) – $20 M
- Young Women’s Academy – $31.5 M
- Secondary Technology – $23 M
- Secondary Life Safety/Security – $8 M
- Athletic Turf/Track & Lighted Fields – $8.8 M
- Teacher Housing – Revenue Generated Facility
- Teacher Childcare Facility – Revenue Generated Facility
The Young Women’s Academy—which would act as an all-girls Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) school funded and operated by MISD—was a point of discussion following the bond presentation. Since no polling was done prior to including the academy in the proposal, several board members questioned whether it is something the community wants to allocate tax dollars towards, rather than using those dollars for an additional elementary school, for example. The decision was made by board members to poll community members and students to gauge interest before acting on the academy. According to MISD Superintendent Orlando Riddick, a decision must be made before December.
Another decision to be made on the bond is the repayment period: 15 or 30 years. Should the existing 2019 proposal be placed on the ballot and approved by voters, the owner of a $200,000 home will see an increase of $304 on their annual property tax bill for a 15-year bond repayment, or an increase of $211 for a 30-year bond repayment. According to Riggen, the committee was split between the two options.
Now that the Facilities Committee has presented the bond proposal, the board must decide on its next steps. As discussed at Monday’s meeting, the board plans to hire a demographer to verify student population projections and hold workshops to discuss the plan in more detail over the coming months.