The easy part has been done and a tentative decision has been made, now comes the work of selling a $103.7 million bond referendum to the voters.
The Midlothian ISD Bond Steering Committee met with the MISD School Board of Trustees Monday night and hammered out a three-point bond proposal that will build a second high school in phases, construct an Ag center and include dollars to buy land for future school sites.
“This is a much more conservative package than the one we initially looked at,” said MISD Place 6 Trustee Cindy Williams, who acted as facilitator. “This respects the needs of students and the district and the concerns of voters, too.”
While the school board will have the final say on what the bond package includes and the dollars sought from taxpayers, the three points agreed on by the BSC and board are:
$98.790 million for the first phase of a two-phase high school with a capacity for 1,800 students. $2.414 million for an ag science center to be shared by the district’s two high schools. $1.5 million to purchase land for several school sites.
The district had initially eyed numbers provided by VLK Architects Inc., that priced a second, 2,500-student high school at $138 million and went above the district’s bond capacity of $123.5 million.
MISD Superintendent Dr. J.D. Kennedy had e-mailed BSC members on Friday saying he couldn’t support building all of a second high school. Kennedy said doing so would leave excess capacity at both MISD high schools and limit the bonding capacity for future schools.
“We will need a middle school soon and we will need another elementary school soon,” Kennedy said Monday night. “I think it would be irresponsible to present that to voters or to you (BSC). We have some commitments to kids other than kids in the ninth through 12th grade.”
The proposal presented for phase one would build a 1,800-student high school with core classrooms and facilities designed for 2,500 students. The idea is to expand the building and add onto the second high school as the district grows.
The second phase, based on the district’s assessment, would probably be built in 2015.
The first phase would see: a 335,137-square-foot building constructed for $58.65 million, 65,823-square-foot metal building for athletics at $10.86 million, and $2.93 million for off-site utilities and contingencies.
The high school costs would also include $1.086 million for owner betterment and $1.448 million for contractor contingency. Survey, consulting and engineering fees and permits would add another $8.99 million.
Furnishing the second high school would cost an estimated $5.99 million and technology costs would add an estimated $1.499 million.
The district has also added in a one-year inflation rate of 8-percent to send the told estimated cost to $98,790,613.
Kennedy’s e-mail on Friday provided no numbers for how much Phase 2 might cost saying it was too far in the future to estimate.
The Agricultural Science Center would be constructed for $1.77 million. That number breaks down into $1.4 million in building costs, $70,000 for site contingency and $300,000 to bring utilities to the facility.
The district has figured in $61,950 for contingencies, $219,834 for fees, engineering and permits, $146,556 to furnish the center and $36,639 for technology costs.
A one-year inflation rate of 8 percent brings the ag center proposal to $2,413,777.
The $1.5 million in land costs would probably be used to buy land for a seventh elementary school. While the district has discussed building its third middle school on property it owns on Sudith Lane, the district has not determined where it will build the seventh elementary school.
The second high school is to be built on property the district already owns at the corner of FM 1387 and Walnut Grove Road east of Midlothian.
The deadline for the MISD Board of Trustees to call a bond referendum is rapidly approaching.
State law requires a bond election to be called 77 days prior to the date of a referendum. If trustees plan to call an election for Nov. 6 that means they would have to formally vote on the price, scope and language of the referendum on or prior to Aug. 21.
The BSC discussed putting the costs for the design of the third middle school and the seventh elementary school, carrying a $2.9 million price tag, before voters this fall and. The BSC also discussed adding $1.63 million in computer and technology costs to the bond package.
An idea to renovate Frank Seale Middle School for $3.5 million also found no traction with the BSC.
“I think we have a top three and we need to keep this clear and simple and clean for voters,” said BSC member Bill Burdett. “Anything else we add could possibly just muddy the water.”
MISD Board President Duke Burge said buying computers that would be obsolete in four years on a 30-year bond did not seem like a good proposition.
“We need technology, but this needs to be a budget item,” said Burge. “There are other ways to purchase this without going out for a bond.”
And in spite of all the talk of $100 million school bond issues, the rate at which MISD taxes property owners could still go down.
The BSC heard tax bond figures from Bill Gumbert, a bond attorney for Dain Rauscher Ltd., two weeks ago.
In his presentation, Gumbert pointed out Midlothian’s maintenance and operation (M&O) tax rate stood at $1.50 per $1,000 of property value in 2005. It dropped to $1.37 during the 2006-07 school year and is expected to drop again this year to $1.04. Two years ago the Texas Legislature implemented property tax reform that cut taxes over the 2005-06 school year and the again in the 2006-07 year.
The district’s interest and sinking fund (I&S) rate was .2875 cents in 2005, climbed to .32750 cents in 2006-07 and is expected to remain steady this year. The MISD Board of Trustees will formally set the 2007-08 tax rate this fall.
Gumbert said if MISD was successful in passing a $123.5 million bond this fall, the I&S rate would go to .41375-cents in 2008 and .50-cents in 2009. Both the M&O and I&S taxes would still be less than taxes in 2006-07.
MISD formed a committee five weeks ago to hammer out what it wanted in a high school and handed those rough specifications to Leeza Vardeman, an architect for VLK Architect Inc.
Vardeman said her $138 million estimate was based on a fully equipped high school for 2,500 students. A high school typically costs $160- to $165-per-square-foot. The second high school - all inclusive - was expected to cover roughly 456,618-square-feet.
Vardeman said those initial figures included a football practice field, a competition baseball field and a competition basketball court that is smaller than the current MISD arena.
MHS Principal Al Hemmle said classrooms were designed for 25 students with larger classrooms for core subjects.
At Monday’s meeting Kennedy said the second high school still contained a boys and girls gym and a band hall.
“We took out one large ensemble room for band and choir and we took out a number of offices,” said Kennedy. “This plan does not include wrestling and some of the other sports we wanted.”
The BSC listed “sticker shock” as the main hurdle in selling a new high school to the community when they met two weeks ago.
The community and MISD board have wrestled with bond issues for several years.
MISD’s student population has increased by 33 percent over the last five years. The school district covers 111 square miles and serves approximately 6,000 students who reside within the boundaries of Cedar Hill, Mansfield, Maypearl, Ovilla, Venus and Waxahachie.
Ranked as one of the fastest growing school districts in the state, MISD is struggling to provide the best learning opportunities for students without over-taxing their parents and businesses.
Midlothian ISD includes five elementary schools grades Pre K - 5, two middle school grades 6-8, and one high school grades 9-12. The district broke ground on a sixth elementary school last week.
The district also has over 700 employees
Midlothian hammered out a master plan with its Growth Management Committee in 2003. That plan saw the district pass a $80 million bond in early 2004 to build a stadium, join the north and south campus of the high school, finish Walnut Grove Middle School and buy land.
Three years ago the Midlothian Independent School District was handed numbers saying they would need a new high school by the fall of 2010.
But Midlothian has a sixth elementary school opening on Sudith Road in the fall of 2008 and if the district decides to redraw attendance zones - and they have given every indication they will - elementary school needs could be pushed back three to four years.
Bob Templeton, MISD demographer, said in June the district is growing between 6- and 9-percent a year and anything over 5 percent is considered significant.
Templeton pointed out MISD saw 209 new elementary school students enroll last year. A typical elementary school holds about 650 to 700 students comfortably. He added that J.R. Irvin Elementary School and Longbranch Elementary School will reach capacity in the 2008-09 school year. Mt. Peak Elementary is expected to reach its capacity of 818 students in the fall of 2009.
“Your high school is growing by about 130 to 170 students a year,” Templeton said. “It takes roughly a year to design and get the permits to build a high school and then two years to actually build it. By 2012 you will most definitely need a new high school.”
The BSC was formed in June to help the district decide what the community needs, present that idea to MISD Trustees and then turn around and help sell that bond issue to the community.
Only 21 BSC members attended Monday’s joint meeting with the MISD School Board.
The 2007 Midlothian ISD Bond Steering Committee is: Kathy Armstrong, Dee Arterburn, Shara Backus, Jimmy Bailey, Becky Blackburn, Brian Blackwell, David Boswell, Dawn Brown, Robin Bullock, Bill Burdett, Duke Burge, Heidi Byrum, Nena Challenner, Karen Childers, Karen Cox, Dan Dunegan, Jean Embry, Joe Fallis, Pat Farrell, Scott Fertig, Bridget Flaherty, Gina Florence, Kim Gilson, Gregory Glenn, Sherry Goldman, Alicia Gonzalez, Doug Hankins, Jana Hathorne, Gail Haynes, Al Hemmle, Sandra Hill, Don Hogg, William Houston, Roger Jaffe, John Johnson, Larry Keiser, J.D. Kennedy, Sid Kuykendall, Tony Lokash, Ken Marks, Mike Marshall, Steve Massey, Vicki Massey, Matt McKay, Monte Mechler, Jim Mentzel, Tom Moore, Davis Morgan, Richard Norman, Kirk Paschall, Norman Pender, Donald Reese, William Reese, Richard Reno, Jay B. Roberts, Danny Rodgers, Tim Savins, Phil E. Seay, Wayne Shuffield, La-shea Slaydon, Carl Smith, Bob Templeton, Coy Tipton, Krista Tipton, Beth Van Amburgh, Leesa Vardeman, Gary Vineyard, Cherie Wagoner, Judy Walling, Andrea Walton, Rhonda Welch, Jamie Wickliffe, Kim Wiens, Cindy Williams, Rene Williams, Dee Wilson and Lori Worley.