Chapel Hill ISD bond reduced by roughly $10M

Published on Monday, 17 February 2014 23:05 - Written by Faith Harper, fharper@tylerpaper.com

 

Chapel Hill ISD voters will see a smaller bond option on their May ballots, after a larger package was voted down in November.

The district’s board of trustees called a $21 million bond at its meeting Monday night.

The package focuses on increasing security, addressing enrollment issues and increasing academic opportunities, according to board members.

Board president Larry Akin said after a larger $31.2 million package was not approved the district sent out 1,600 surveys to its voters and re-evaluated its growth plan.

“We went back and looked at everything again and then we considered the surveys that the voters filled out,” he said. “We ranked all of the projects, but there were certain things as a board that had to be done.”

The proposal on the May ballot is roughly $10 million less than the bond proposed in November. Several projects were put on hold, including adding a competition gymnasium and tennis courts at the high school, building a separate disciplinary alternative education program facility and career and technology facility, and plans for new baseball fields were downgraded to renovations.

If passed, the newest bond would increase the district’s debt service by 9.5 cents to a total debt of 26.8 cents per $100 property valuation, said Brian Grubbs with Southwest Securities, the district’s financial advisor.

Combined with the maintenance and operations portion of the tax rate, taxpayers would have a total tax rate of $1.348 per $100 valuation. The average taxpayer (with a home valued at $135,112) would pay $114.11 more per year in taxes for the 21-year term of the bond, Grubbs said.

Akins said the bond will create a system for upgrades and maintenance in the district to accommodate for growth.

The bond includes renovating and expanding Chapel Hill Middle School, which saw 19 percent growth during five years, said Superintendent Donni Cook.

Plans include adding 42,500-square-feet of space and renovating another 25,000 feet to add between 12 and 15 additional classrooms and renovate the band hall.

Dr. Cook said the school’s sixth-grade band is larger than the high school varsity band and is cramped in its current space.

A stage would be added to the cafeteria for the theater department, and the entryway into the campus would be revamped for more security.

At the high school, almost 5,700 feet of space would be added and another almost 10,300 feet renovated to expand its career and technology courses.

“We have one of the largest CTE programs in East Texas, and we are not satisfied,” Dr. Cook said.

The bond also includes renovating “the old Pre-K building” at Jackson Elementary. The building is separated from the main building, and renovations would keep people from walking between the buildings without coming through the main entrance, board members said.

The proposal includes upgrades to the district’s baseball stadium, and replacing bleachers at the football stadium and making the stadium ADA compliant.

Dr. Cook said both facilities are showing wear, but the baseball renovations were dire because wiring and plumbing problems have escalated to safety concerns.