For the first time in seven years, Dallas ISD will ask voters for bond money to add some schools and upgrade some others.
The $1.6 billion price tag includes various projects targeted at schools in Preston Hollow, such as a new $65 million campus for students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade that would serve the Hillcrest High School feeder pattern.
Perhaps most importantly, the initiative on the Nov. 3 ballot likely would not have an impact on the property tax rate, which means the funds must be used entirely for construction and facilities needs.
“The plan that is being proposed has no tax increase,” said District 1 trustee Edwin Flores. “The district has a pretty good machinery to make sure we get the most bang for our buck.”
DISD voters approved $1.4 million in bonds in both 2002 and 2008, which led to 34 new schools, mostly in the southern half of the city.
District officials have spent the last several months prioritizing its needs with the Future Facilities Task Force, a collection of 27 volunteer parents, business leaders, community members and DISD principals.
Flores said the plan directly targets the improvement of schools for students, and less for administrators.
“This is focused almost entirely on where kids are going to be,” he said.
High schools throughout the district are over capacity, thus the need for relief, Flores said. W.T. White is at 140 percent of its target capacity, while Hillcrest is at 127 percent.
The bond initiative would filter $26.5 million to Hillcrest for 32 new classrooms (including a replacement for the school’s original 1930 wing) plus a new gymnasium and locker rooms, $10.6 million to Thomas Jefferson High School for 16 new classrooms and a library expansion, and $7.1 million to Marsh Middle School for 12 new classrooms.
BONDS, SCHOOL BONDS
Here’s a look at which Preston Hollow schools would be most impacted by a $1.6 billion Dallas ISD bond proposal this fall.
Hillcrest HS $26.5 million
32 new classrooms, new gym, and locker rooms
W.T. White HS $13.1 million
Improvements to gym, science labs, auditorium
Jefferson HS $10.3 million
New cafeteria, auditorium, labs, and fine-arts space
Walker MS $9.7 million
Roof, HVAC, plumbing work
Franklin MS $9.4 million
Facility functional improvements
Preston Hollow ES $4.8 million
New roof and various enhancements
Marsh MS $3.7 million
Adams ES $2.4 million
In all, the proposal would earmark $464.8 million for nine new schools (including replacements for Pinkston and Roosevelt high schools), $195.3 million for classrooms at existing schools, and $92.6 million for new educational programs. The other $838 million would be for general building improvements and land acquisition.
The plan would come with boundary changes for seven schools, including Preston Hollow Elementary and Kramer Elementary.
Because current debt is being retired and interest rates are favorable, the property tax rate would hold steady under the plan unless the district’s future financial projections miss the mark.
“It’s the goal of the board to keep property taxes static,” said District 2 trustee Mike Morath.
Preston Hollow resident Michael MacNaughton said that although he doesn’t support the current proposal for various reasons, he recognizes that DISD schools need to be upgraded.
“We have to have new facilities,” MacNaughton said. “We have to move our schools forward.”
Here’s a look at the enrollment for some local DISD schools relative to current capacity, as of October 2014.
|White HS||2,310||130 percent|
|Hillcrest HS||1,262||128 percent|
|Pershing ES||558||127 percent|
|Gooch ES||289||58 percent|
|Cary MS||596||71 percent|
|Walker MS||749||82 percent|