frequently asked questions
1. Has the Board called a new bond election?
No. GCISD has not called a bond election but is researching the possibility of a May 2016 referendum. A facility planning team comprised of parents, community constituents, and campus and district staff will be brought together to consider the district’s financial position and strategic plan as it relates to programs for students, facilities, infrastructure, technology, security, etc. If the team recommends moving forward with a referendum on this timeline, any proposal would need to be presented to the Board of Trustees in January or February 2016 for their consideration. Only then may a bond referendum election be called by the Board of Trustees.
2. Why has the district begun this process?
The 2011 Bond Program is in its final phase and all work promised to voters has been completed on time and under budget. Under the district’s 10-year strategic plan, known as LEAD 2021, GCISD has introduced several leading educational programs for students and continued to expand opportunities for students. LEAD 2021 was developed by a community stakeholder’s group of more than 300 participants, including a planning committee and multiple action teams. As we provide new student opportunities through LEAD 2021, we must continually evaluate our facilities and support systems to determine if our learning environments, equipment and infrastructure are equipped to best support the future of our educational programs.
3. What is the debt situation in GCISD?
The district’s current outstanding voter-approved debt is $338.6 million and represents 0.2801 on the total tax rate of $1.3201. This represents 2.93% of the district’s taxable property values and is below the state average of 3.28%. Compared to other non-fast growth districts in the D/FW Metroplex, GCISD ranks sixth-lowest in bond principal outstanding as a percentage of taxable value and the district’s debt tax rate is the fifth-lowest in the Metroplex. On a larger scale, of the 132 school districts statewide with an enrollment of at least 7,500 students, GCISD’s existing principal amount of bonds ranks 90th in the state as a percentage of taxable values that secure repayment of voter-approved bonds (Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts records).
Each school district is unique. The capital needs and debt position of each school district varies upon many factors, including the particular desires of each community and whether or not the district is a Robin Hood district. School districts that don’t send part of their operating tax revenues to the state are often able to use their district’s operating budget to fund capital needs. GCISD has the fourth-lowest overall tax rate compared to other non-fast growth districts in the DFW area and the sixth-lowest overall tax rate compared to districts across the region.
GCISD bonds are repayable in 25 years or less, depending on the original sales date. The district has refunded and/or refinanced several bond series over the past 10 years, saving district taxpayers $30.4 million in interest costs on voter-approved bonds.
The district saved $33.5 million in interest costs on the 2011 bond program by securing lower interest rates on the final voter-approved bonds due to favorable market conditions, high investor demand for district bonds, and the district's strong rating from financial rating agencies, such as Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's Rating Services. The 2011 Bond Program has been funded with a tax increase that is 23.4 percent less than originally proposed, which has resulted in a smaller tax impact than originally approved by voters. The program was budgeted to cost taxpayers 3.93 cents per $100 valuation, but the actual tax increase was 3.01 cents per $100 valuation.
4. Why do we need a bond program to fund facility improvements?
The district’s operating budget is not able to fund large, non-recurring capital expenditures such as land, buildings, infrastructure, technology and equipment. This is because of several factors:
First, the Maintenance and Operations budget (M&O) is dedicated to daily operating costs and recurring or consumable expenditures such as teacher and staff salaries, classroom supplies, software and utilities. Further, because GCISD is a “Robin Hood” district, the district is required to send more than $25 million of its local operating tax collections each year to the State for distribution to other school districts. This means GCISD has approximately $25 million less per year in its operating budget to fund personnel and classroom needs than the tax revenue it receives.
Second, the State of Texas has chosen to fund facilities through local taxpayers at the local level. Unlike some Texas school districts, our district does not receive facility allotment funds from the State, which means longer-term facility improvements and equipment must be approved by voters through bond elections. And, because voter-approved bonds cannot by law be used to pay daily operating costs, these funds cannot be used to increase teacher salaries or pay rising costs for utilities, supplies and services.
Finally, unlike the operations tax revenues, GCISD retains 100% of bond tax revenues that repay the district’s obligations. This is why the district must look to bond programs to fund facility improvements and equipment; every bond dollar approved by voters stays in GCISD to benefit our students and preserve property values. Without bond programs, GCISD would not be able to maintain its facilities and/or adapt for existing and expanding programs and services for students.
5. Why is the district considering a new bond program at this time?
In addition to finalizing projects in the 2011 Bond Program and continuously assessing program needs related to LEAD 2021 and student opportunities, financing conditions also are favorable for considering a new bond program. The district’s financial advisor has reported that current interest rates are advantageous for long-term bond investments and that rates are projected to remain low in future months. The facility planning team will consider all these economic factors as part of their consideration of a future bond referendum.
6. How is the district budget structured?
The school district budget is divided into two “buckets.” The first bucket is the Maintenance and Operations budget (M&O), which funds daily costs and recurring or consumable expenditures such as teacher and staff salaries, supplies, software and utilities. The second bucket is the Interest and Sinking budget (I&S), also known as Debt Service, and that is for longer-term capital improvements approved by voters through bond elections. I&S funds cannot by law be used to pay M&O expenses, which means that voter-approved bonds cannot be used to increase teacher salaries or pay rising costs for utilities and services. While in theory the M&O budget can be used to pay capital improvements, it isn’t possible in GCISD. Doing so would prevent districts such as GCISD from paying salaries and general daily operating expenses. Remember, as a “Robin Hood” district, GCISD is required to send more than $25 million of its local M&O tax collections each year to the State for distribution to other school districts.
7. What is the facility planning process?
LEAD 2021 has been guiding the evaluation of district programs, support systems and facilities since 2011. As mentioned above, a forward-focused strategic plan such as LEAD 2021 requires us to continually evaluate our facilities and support systems to determine if our learning environments, equipment and infrastructure are equipped to best support the future of learning in GCISD. An overview of the facility planning process is as follows.
Facility Assessment to Support Programs
Facility Planning Team
8. How much is the district considering and what does that mean to me as a taxpayer?
No amount is being considered. The district is only in the assessment stage. The facility planning team would consider information provided by the assessments and various financial tax scenarios. As a reminder, citizens age 65 years and older who have properly applied for and received a Homestead Exemption would not have a tax increase as a result of an approved bond program.
9. What are the dates and amounts of past bond packages in the last 22 years?
November 1993: $75 million (new high school, two new elementary schools, renovations, additions, furniture,buses and vehicles, and technology for existing schools); resulted in Colleyville Heritage High School, Glenhope Elementary School and Silver Lake Elementary School
September 1998: $134 million (repair, renovation, upgrade, addition, expansion, construction and acquisition of school building sites, and purchase of technology); resulted in a new Grapevine Middle School to replace the previous facility on Worth Street in Grapevine and later sold to Faith Christian
September 2005: $107.9 million (construction, acquisition, additions, and renovations of facilities, new elementary school, purchase new buses, vehicles, and technology); resulted in a new Colleyville Elementary School to replace the facility on Colleyville Boulevard and now used for the Bridges Learning Center, District Training Center and Offices for Special Services and Nutrition Services
May 2011: $124.5 million (repair, renovation, upgrade, equipment, security and safety, roofing, technology infrastructure and instructional devices, dedicated career and technology center, and efficiencies); resulted in a new Career & Technical Education Center for all GCISD high school students & Go Centers for both high schools
Note: The district originally planned to call the election in May 2010 but due to lingering effects of the economic downturns in 2008, and based on feedback from stakeholders and our community Bond Planning Committee, the Board and district leadership made the decision to delay the bond election by a year.
10. How can I stay informed during this process?
Patrons are encouraged to visit the district’s facility planning website www.gcisdfirst.net, for regular updates about the assessment and planning process.
©2015 Grapevine-Colleyville ISD