Bond proposal has something for all LISD schools

Major projects included for VHS, FPMS, SRE

Four Points News

Three Four Points schools would benefit from a recommended $453,860,841 bond package, which would improve safety, accommodate growth, and provide major facility maintenance throughout Leander ISD, according to Victor Villarreal, co-chairman of a bond advisory steering committee.

There are “optional items” that could add $9,856,468 to the proposed bond total.

Funds projected as necessary to meet LISD requisites amount to $172,536,655 for elementary schools, $117,525,385 for middle schools, $87,175,801 for high schools, $47,730,000 for technology and $28,893,000 for ancillary requests.

Four Points recommendations

Four Points area schools specifically mentioned in the package are Steiner Ranch Elementary, Four Points Middle School and Vandegrift High School.

SRE, as well as Giddens Elementary, are recommended for major maintenance to their HVAC systems, lighting, carpet and paint at a total estimated expense of $17,863,111. Both campuses are about 20-years-old and due for facility and equipment refurbishing and replacement, said Corey Ryan, LISD chief communications officer.

There is no specific mention of FPMS under middle school recommendations; however, it is named in the high school proposal that requests $3 million for design and mitigation costs for a secondary access road to FPMS and VHS. Designating this expense gives trustees options for capital outlay should the district and state and local authorities arrive at a solution for the environmentally sensitive and stymied road construction, said Ryan.

VHS is also recommended for $29,548,592 in additions and renovations to increase student capacity.

And, Vipers make the list under “optional” line items for construction of an agriculture barn, as does Glenn High School, and a career and technical education Incubator program classroom, as does Vista Ridge High School. Total estimated costs of these projects are $6,932,120 and $1,066,107, respectively.

If construction of barn facilities becomes part of an approved package, the VHS building would be built at Grandview Hills Elementary. Currently, VHS agriculture students use Cedar Park High School barn facilities.

As for CTE Incubator classrooms, this is a new program that will begin in August at VRHS and is slated to start-up at VHS in 2018.

Bond proposal process

Preparation for the bond election proposal has been in the works for some time with bond advisory committees having formed in January.

Two groups — a steering committee and five subcommittees with a combined workforce of 155 volunteers — prepared the proposal presented to a meeting of LISD Board of Trustees on June 15.

“Our goal was to put forth fair, meaningful and thoughtful recommendations. I think we did that,” Villarreal said.

The recommendation is not the final proposal. A telephone survey under the direction of Rice University professor Robert Stein was taken from a sample of 500 households  throughout the district’s 200-square-mile service area. Results will be presented at the LISD board meeting this week on Thursday, July 20.

The survey gave community members an outlet to voice their opinions to LISD and the board, said Dan Troxell, LISD superintendent. “It ensures this growth path is reflective of all voices in our community,” he added.

Also at the July 20 meeting, more specific information will be available about individual proposals in the bond recommendation, said Ryan.

Bond proposal next steps

Then the board will take the committee information and the survey information and it will form a bond package if that is the direction the trustees want to go.

“We will add, subtract or accept each need presented,” said Pam Waggoner, LISD board president and trustee for Place 3.

“I want to hear what the community has to say. It is all of our tax money, so everyone has an equal say,” Waggoner said. “Infrastructure is always first on the list. You have to have a building, desks, chairs and technology.”

Based on the district’s published timeline, if the board calls for a referendum, it will do so as part of its consent agenda at its August 17 meeting.

“I do know to have a vibrant, prosperous and growing community, we need a strong school system to attract residents and the youth. I believe our communities have received the benefits of a strong school district,” Waggoner said. Â

More LISD recommendations

Recommendations divide into elementary, middle school, high school, technology and ancillary services. Each one of the five areas had a subcommittee charged with researching its needs for the next four to five years, Villarreal said.

The single largest recommended expenditure is for design, construction and furnishings for three new elementary schools as well as just the design of a fourth one, all for $123,320,048.

The second largest recommended expenditure is $63,410,011 for the design, construction and furnishing of a new middle school.

Land purchases for a future high school, middle school and seven elementary schools are also in the proposal at a combined cost of $61,934,695.

Finally, there are recommendations for the construction of secure vestibules at all LISD high schools and middle schools for a total expense of $17,621,008.

Already, among LISD elementary schools, secure vestibules are either completed or are on schedule for completion. “Our number one objective is to make sure our schools are safe and secure where quality learning can occur,” said Ryan.

According to the report, the subcommittees’ initial recommendations had totaled $1,129,909,962. The steering committee reduced requests to $494,492,220, and the superintendent’s office lowered it further to $431,977,345. The final, compromise presented to trustees was $453,860,841.

“It is quite common to start high and pare down,” said Villarreal, who has experience working with bond advisory committees.

“It was challenging for the steering committee to wade through the volume of suggestions. LISD is a large district and has a lot of constituencies. Committees were very holistic, and there was a strong diversity of thought,” said Villarreal.