By BOBBY HORN JR.
HUFFMANOn May 12, the Huffman ISD will ask taxpayers to approve a $20.5M bond package for district-wide facility improvements.
The referendum is the first major bond package since voters approved bonds in 2002 to build the new Hargrave High School.
Athletics to see upgrade
According to Superintendent Dr. Doug Killian, the largest chunk of the bonds will go toward athletic improvements. The district has set aside $10M of the funds for these projects. The centerpiece of the project will be a new multi-use stadium. The new stadium, Killian said, will feature an eight-lane track, field house, weight room and artificial turf.
The current stadium has a seven-lane track, which does not meet UIL specifications for hosting track meets. Killian said that it is likely the new stadium will be built on land the district owns adjacent to the high school.
We cannot add any additional seating (to the current stadium) and there is not an area to add the track addition without taking out much of the limited parking, Killian said. He added that the stadium was in such disrepair that to make the improvements and bring it into compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act would cost more than building a new stadium from the ground up.
The district also plans to build new tennis courts.
We currently have only one, in disrepair Killian said. On the elementary side of the district. Our kids playing tennis are forced to travel across the lake to practice and play.
Moving up to 4A, Killian added, has forced the district to reevaluate its facilities and the students needs.
The bond referendum is not just about sports. Killian said that they have set money aside to improve technology district-wide.
We are envisioning projectors in all the rooms, high speed connections to the classes for virtual field trips, smart boards that students can tough and move images on a screen, a parent portal where they can look at attendance and grades in real time and a fiber ring that connects the extra district, sharing resources and servers in a cost effective manner, he added.
Killian said there is also a need for a new administration building.
Currently administrative staff occupies four portable buildings adjacent to the administration building. Those are the lucky ones. The others, for lack of room, have offices at various campuses. Killian said that the district needs one central facility for administration. Since the district owns land around the current building, Killian said it just makes sense to build on the same site.
How much will it cost?
Even if the bond package passes, taxpayers will see their taxes go down, not up.
The current tax rate is $1.60 per $100 valuation. This is broken down into $1.37 for Maintenance and Operations (M&O) and $.23 for Interest & Sinking (I&S). The district uses the M&O budget for its daily operations while the I&S part can only be spent on debt service.
With the passage of House Bill 1 last year, the district will see its M&O go down to $1.04 next year. The I&S, if the bonds pass, is estimated at $.3439 for a total tax rate of $1.3839, almost 22 cents less than this year.
In 2008-2009, if there are no changes to state funding, the district said that the highest estimated tax rate would be $1.4851 per $100 valuation, although Killian said it would likely not be that high as the district retires old debt over couple of years.
By BOBBY HORN JR.