The Eanes ISD Board of Trustees has called a May 6 bond election for voters to consider maintenance and efficiency projects, including safety and security upgrades, maintenance and refurbishment projects, and the purchase of new technological devices for students and staff.
Following recommendations of the District’s Bond Advisory Committee, the Board voted Feb. 7 to present the $131.429 million bond package in three propositions. The bond election will have no impact on the current Eanes ISD debt service tax rate, which will remain $0.12 per $100 property valuation regardless of the election’s outcome.
The District made a concerted effort to identify and move items paid out of operations into the bond, allowing money to stay in the fund that pays teacher salaries. The proposed bond also includes projects that defer costs in operations - like solar energy and various technologies, for example - leading to an estimated $2.8 million in annual savings once the projects are fully implemented.
In accordance with the District’s typical four-year bond cycle, this will be the first bond election in Eanes ISD since 2019.
"This is an opportunity for voters to authorize maintenance on, and improvements to every single campus without raising the tax rate,” said Eanes ISD Board President John Havenstrite. “Our community-led Bond Advisory Committee took a hard look at safety, security, student programs, energy efficiency, conservation and facility needs. And the projects they recommended address all of those areas and, importantly, save us money."
The May 6 bond proposal consists of three propositions:
Proposition A would authorize safety and security upgrades, physical repairs, and refurbishments at every campus — as well as energy-efficiency projects, network replacements, new learning management system, and library modernizations. Projects include roof and HVAC repairs, playground resurfacing, new pavement of parking lots, server upgrades and replacement of fine arts equipment and instruments. Refurbishment of newly purchased district property adjacent to Westlake High School is also included. Cost: $117.773 million.
Proposition B would authorize refurbishments at Chaparral Stadium including safety upgrades, pole lighting replacements, a replacement video board and track surface replacement. Cost: $2.411 million
Proposition C would authorize the replacement of student and staff digital devices, as well as computer equipment in labs, classrooms, and offices. Cost: $11.245 million.
The Board’s decision to call the election followed a yearlong process of evaluating needs and potential costs across Eanes ISD. After District officials closely examined the needs at each campus and facility, the citizen-led Bond Advisory Committee held a series of public meetings to review those needs and develop recommendations for the Board.
A bond election is funded with a different portion of the District’s tax rate than teacher salaries and other operating expenses, which are funded through the Maintenance & Operations (M&O) rate. Through recapture, the state currently keeps 64 cents out of every dollar that Eanes ISD collects with the M&O rate. However, all of the money raised by the bond propositions would stay in Eanes ISD and would not be subject to recapture.
“Funding that is approved through bond elections is not subject to recapture,” said Superintendent Dr. Jeff Arnett. “All of the bond revenue would stay here in Eanes ISD to benefit staff and students and to address needs identified in collaboration with our community.”
The District would be able to fund the three propositions without a tax increase because Eanes ISD has been retiring past debt and, in some cases, paying debt off early. In addition, the value of the Eanes ISD tax base continues to grow.
Since 2013, Eanes ISD has refunded more than $68 million of existing bond debt, saving $8.5 million in interest over the life of the bonds. During that same time, more than $24 million of principal has been retired early, saving $19.2 million in avoided interest. Over the last 20 years, Eanes ISD has reduced the debt services tax rate from more than 23 cents to the current 12-cent tax rate, which is among the lowest in Central Texas.
The last Eanes ISD bond election was in May 2019, when voters approved an $80 million proposal that included new spaces for the Westlake High School aquatics and wrestling programs and expanded space for the robotics and engineering programs.
For more information about the 2023 bond proposal, and for updates on the progress of the 2019 bond package, please visit eanesbond.com.