The 2016 Bond also incorporated work to benefit all students across the district, including $32 million for technology needs and $18 million for safety and security needs. In addition, a replacement stadium is being built to serve the entire district for generations to come.
Much of this work began immediately after the bond passed in November 2016.
One of the primary goals of the Technology portion of the bond program was improved connectivity, enhanced infrastructure and a new telephone system.
The investments include the enhancement of the fiber optic network, purchase of new and replacement network communication appliances throughout the district, and increased hardwired connections in classrooms.
Specifically, the following work has been completed:
- 2,350 new laptops purchased for all district teachers
- 5,824 Chrome books distributed to campuses for use by students
- 3,548 desktop computers replaced on campuses
- Additional Wireless Access Points added to campuses for fence-to-fence coverage
Safety & Security
As part of its commitment to improving safety, the district used bond funds to purchase 60 additional buses in 2017 allowed it to offer transportation services to 5,000 more students who live between one mile and 1.5 miles from their zoned campus of attendance. All of the new buses are equipped with three-point harnesses.
In 2018, the district replaced another 20 aging and mechanically inefficient buses.
New Cameras and Access Control Systems
The technology for safety and security continues to evolve and improve, making it imperative that the district upgrade and integrate systems.
Some of that work has already taken place, including adding new cameras to campuses. During the 2018-19 school year, Spring ISD is piloting a new RS2 Technologies access control system at three facilities as part of a districtwide project that is being funded by the 2016 Bond.
The new RS2 access control system, which includes intruder alerts, will integrate with the district’s existing Video Insight system and basically allow them to “talk” to each other.
The implementation districtwide will start in the spring and continue over a two-year period until all facilities have been upgraded, beginning at campuses that have been identified with the most immediate needs.
The district is strategically assessing fencing across the district and will install fencing at locations where site security will be enhanced by this work.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why does the district need a bond?
A: The state of Texas only gives school districts funding for daily operations, meaning that school districts must fund new school construction, building renovations and capital investments in technology and safety and security through voter-approved bonds. Spring ISD has not called for a bond in nearly a decade. As such, the proposed bond package would allow the district to address long-awaited capital needs.
Q: How will these bonds work?
Q: What are bonds? How long does it take to pay them off?
A: Bonds for school projects are very similar to a home mortgage. To finance construction and capital investment projects, school districts sell bonds to investors and then pay both principal and interest payments to these investors until the bonds are paid off – much like a homeowner pays off a mortgage over time. These proposed bonds would be paid off in 30 years or less.
Q: Can you tell me more about how these proposed bonds will work?
A: The sale of bonds could only begin if voters approve the proposed bond package of $330 million on the November 2016 general election ballot. It is important to note that voters are being asked to authorize the maximum amount the district is approved to issue. The district does not have to issue the full maximum amount.
If voter approval for the bond package is received, then the district would be authorized to sell the bonds to fund the capital investment projects outlined in the bond package as needed. Principal and interest on the bonds would then be repaid over a determined period of time using funds from the district’s debt service tax revenue.
The interest rate received is largely determined by the district’s credit ratings, which for Spring ISD are A+ and Aa3 for Standard & Poor and Moody’s rating agencies, respectively. The bonds will also be backed by the Texas Permanent School Fund’s (PSF) Bond Guarantee Program, which enhances the ratings to AAA and Aaa, respectively. The district’s ratings, coupled with the PSF guarantee, will ensure the bonds are sold at the lowest possible interest rate.
Q: If the bond package of $330 million is approved, is the district obligated to spend the money?
A: Absolutely not. Voters will have approved the maximum amount of bonds that the district can issue. Naturally, though, the district does not have to issue the full maximum amount. Bonds will be issued only when funds are needed to support the capital projects outlined in the bond package. This will be done over time, only as needed, and in a prudent manner.
Q: How can bond money be used?
A: Proceeds from a bond can only be used for costs associated with construction, acquisition, and equipment of school buildings in the district, including safety, security and technology improvements and the purchase of school buses.
Q: If approved by voters, can the bond funds be used for other school projects and expenses?
A: No. State law requires that the school district use bond funds only for the purpose outlined on the election ballot. They cannot be used, for example, for employee salaries or school supplies. Bond proceeds could, however, be used for other capital expenses.
Q: What is included in the proposed bond package and why?
Q: Can you provide me details on what is included in the proposed bond package?
A: The proposed bond package, which is organized around three areas of capital needs, includes:
- Facility Needs
- Middle and high school construction and renovation projects to address secondary campus capacity issues
- Elementary renovation projects to support expanded full-day prekindergarten programs
- Building maintenance projects to ensure comfortable and safe school environments
- A new police command center to serve the entire district
- A replacement stadium to serve the entire district
- Technology Needs
- Improvements to core technology, including improved connectivity, enhanced infrastructure and a new telephone system
- Instructional and classroom technology to expand 21st century learning opportunities
- Safety and Security Needs
- Implementation of improved campus safety and security features and systems
- Purchase of buses to replace aging vehicles and expand bus service to a 1-mile radius
Q: What types of building maintenance projects are planned?
A: Using the district’s facility report conducted by Parsons (a recognized engineering, construction, technical and management services firm), building maintenance needs have been prioritized – the most urgent building needs addressed in the proposed bond package. Examples of the types of items included in the building maintenance portion of the proposed bond package include:
- Interior Construction and Finishes;
- Exterior Enclosures;
- Overall Site Improvements
- Fire Protection;
Q: Will all schools benefit from the bond?
A: Yes, all district schools and communities will benefit from the bond. Approximately $80 million of the proposed bond funds are earmarked to address building maintenance projects and technology, safety and security improvements across district campuses. Additionally, the replacement stadium will serve all of the district’s high schools and their respective communities.
Q: Why is the district proposing ninth-grade centers to address its secondary campus capacity issues versus building a new comprehensive high school?
A: There are many reasons behind the district’s recommendation to move to a ninth-grade center model across the district versus building a new comprehensive high school. The reasons are focused on increased academic achievement and improved school safety. After a nearly two-year review of available ways to address both current and future secondary building capacity issues, the recommendation for ninth-grade centers was determined to be the best option for Spring ISD.
Naturally, this recommendation was not taken lightly. The district has completed an extensive review of what is required to ensure the success of the proposed ninth-grade centers and understands the importance of implementing the ninth-grade centers well – ensuring cohesion and consistency between each ninth-grade center and its respective 10th-12th campus.
Q: Why does the district need to replace its current district stadium?
A: Our current stadium – the Leonard George Stadium, which supports all three of the district’s comprehensive high schools – is nearing its 50-year anniversary and has suitability issues as the district’s competition stadium that cannot be addressed without a major investment in renovations. These suitability issues include, but are not limited, to the following:
- No handicap seating for spectators
- No dedicated locker rooms for participating teams
- Lack of separation between home and away fans; they currently have to use the same parking area
- Improper ingress and egress from the parking lot to the stadium
- Inadequate concession stands to support spectator needs
- Obsolete scoreboards with outdated, discontinued incandescent lighting
Please note that the proposed stadium does not include an attached arena / multipurpose center like many other school districts have recently built.
Q: Why does the Police Department need a new facility?
A: Both improved functionality and a new physical location for the Spring ISD Police Department are needed. The current facility, which scored “poor” on the district’s facility assessment report conducted by Parsons (a recognized engineering, construction, technical and management services firm), lacks the physical space to accommodate the day-to-day functions of the department such as department meetings and roll-call. It also lacks space for a “sally port” (secure entryway) for the safe transition of suspects from vehicle to building, upgraded detention cells and a state-of-the art dispatch and command center.
Lastly, the physical location of the facility also raises concerns. During recent flooding, Spring ISD police vehicles were unable to respond to calls for service due to the street flooding surrounding the facility.
Q: What are the proposed capital investments in core technology?
A: The proposed technology capital investments will improve district connectivity, reliability and access. The investments include the enhancement of the fiber optic network, purchase of new and replacement network communication appliances throughout the district, and increased hardwired connections in classrooms.
Q: The proposed bond package includes a category for “Instructional and classroom technology to expand 21st century learning opportunities.” What would be included in this category?
A: The proposed instructional and classroom technology for students includes additional desktop computers, tablets and notebook computers. The proposal also includes replacement projector systems, document cameras and recording studio equipment to enhance the 21st century learning environment for students.
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Q: Why is the district proposing to expand bus transportation from the 1.5-mile eligibility requirement to the 1-mile eligibility requirement?
A: Ensuring safe passageways for students to and from schools is the driver for the district’s proposal to expand its transportation offering to a 1-mile radius. This change would require a capital investment of $6 million to expand the district’s current fleet to service the additional students.
Currently, there are approximately 5,000 students in grades PK-12 who reside between 1 mile and 1.5 miles from their zoned campus of attendance. These students are walking or traveling in passenger cars to and from school. Those who are walking may be subject to conditions that are not ideal for safe passageways to school, including roadway crossings, the absence of adequate walkways and other safety issues.
While not all eligible students would participate in the service if the eligibility requirement was changed, 40-50% of the newly eligible students would likely take advantage of the change and begin riding the bus. That’s 2,000 to 2,500 more students being transported in what research shows is the safest form of transportation to and from school.
Q: How will the bond affect my property taxes?
Spring ISD’s current tax rate is $1.46996 per $100 of assessed property value. The anticipated effect of the bond on the tax rate is an increase of $0.07. This is based upon current market conditions and the current assessed values of properties within the district. However, future tax implications cannot be predicted as the condition of the housing market is unpredictable.
The projected annual impact on the average Spring ISD homeowner would be $80.50 or $6.71 per month.
Under State law, property taxes for citizens 65 years or older will not increase as a result of the school bond election.
Q. How was the proposed bond package developed?
A: In May 2016, the Spring Independent School District Board of Trustees requested the formation of a Bond Steering Committee to explore how to address the outstanding capital needs of the district. The Bond Steering Committee that was formed included more than 70 people – parents, community members, business leaders, recent graduates, school district retirees and current staff members. The group met weekly throughout the summer to review and develop a proposed bond package for the Board’s consideration.
Eight representatives from the Bond Steering Committee presented the group’s recommended bond package to our Board of Trustees on Aug. 4, 2016 at a Board Work Session, which is open to the public. All of the projects included in the recommended bond package align closely to commitments outlined in the district’s strategic plan, EVERY CHILD 2020, which was launched in May 2015.
On Aug. 9, 2016, the Spring ISD Board of Trustees unanimously accepted the Bond Steering Committee’s recommendation to call for a $330 million bond referendum on the November 2016 ballot.
Not having called for a bond in nearly a decade, the proposed bond package addresses long-awaited district needs in the areas of facilities, technology and safety and security.
Detailed information on the entire Bond Steering Committee process.
Rev. Jan. 6, 2017