Frequently Asked Questions
A bond is similar to a home mortgage. It is a contract to repay borrowed money with a low-cost interest rate over time. Bonds are sold by a school district to investors to raise funds to pay for the costs of construction, renovations and equipment. Most school districts in Texas utilize bonds to finance equipment, renovations and new facilities.
Bond funds can be used to pay for new buildings, additions and renovations to existing facilities, land acquisition, technology infrastructure and equipment for new or existing buildings and large-ticket items such as school buses. Bonds cannot be used for salaries or operating costs such as utility bills, supplies, building maintenance, fuel and insurance.
School districts are required by state law to ask voters for permission to sell bonds to investors in order to raise the capital dollars required to renovate existing buildings or build a new school. Essentially, it’s permission to take out a loan to build and renovate and pay that loan back over an extended period of time, much like a family takes out a mortgage loan for their home. A school board calls a bond election so voters can decide whether or not they want to pay for proposed facility projects through a property tax.
The Board of Trustees called a bond election in the amount of $26.75 million to be brought before voters on November 4, 2014.
The Burnet CISD bond proposal is based on recommendations from a Community Advisory Committee, a diverse group of citizens representing a cross section of the community, including local citizens, civic and business leaders, parents and school staff. District staff and the Committee reviewed the District’s facilities and toured every school campus over a period of several months. A Demographic Study, a 13-Month Facility Needs Assessment Study, and a Financial Analysis were all conducted by the Committee prior to making their recommendations to the School Board in May 2014. The Board carefully studied the Committee’s recommendations and officially called a bond election at their regular meeting on August 18 to put before voters on the November ballot.
The Bond is for planned projects to extend the life of existing facilities, enhance safety and security, improve efficiency across the District, expand facilities to accommodate academic programs like the Ag Program and Construction Trades at BHS and address aging facilities and infrastructure.
Shady Grove was closed beginning with the 2013-2014 school year in order to gain efficiencies in operations. The District realized over $450,000 in savings in 2013-2014 because of the school closure. As part of the consolidation plan students were moved from Shady Grove Elementary to Burnet Elementary (2nd Grade) and RJ Richey Elementary (3rd Grade). The major factor in closing Shady Grove was that it was not big enough to hold three grade levels of students. With the passage of the bond, the plan would be to expand Shady Grove Elementary and move students from Burnet Elementary to Shady Grove Elementary. This plan is more cost effective than renovating Burnet Elementary. The estimated cost projection to renovate Shady Grove Elementary is $10.6 million. The estimated cost projection to renovate Burnet Elementary is $16.6 million.
A school district’s tax rate is comprised of two tax rates: the Maintenance & Operations tax (M&O) and the Interest & Sinking tax (I&S). The M&O rate is used to operate the school district, including salaries, utilities, furniture, supplies, food, gas, etc. The I&S rate is used to pay off school bonds. Bond sales only affect the I&S rate.
Burnet CISD’s outstanding Voter-Approved Debt Principal is $29,475,000 as of the beginning of FY 2013-14 and will be retired in 2023.
The 2014 bond will be financed for 20 years.
If the bond election is approved by voters, the estimated tax impact of this bond is anticipated to be 7.9 cents for a total tax rate of $1.34. This represents an increase of approximately $6.58 per month per $100,000 of taxable property value (assuming stable property tax values).
Burnet CISD’s current bonding capacity is based on a legislative maximum I&S tax rate of 50 cents for debt service. Should this bond be successful, the District only projects the tax rate to increase from 22.25 cents to 30.15 cents leaving nearly 20 cents of additional capacity (assuming stable property tax values). As the district grows and property values increase, the district’s bonding capacity will vary year to year, ultimately growing each year if the tax base continues to grow. Currently, the District does not face bond capacity issues like some other fast growth Districts.
Any registered voter that resides within the school district boundaries.
The deadline for voter registration is October 6, 2014. If you are not registered to vote by this deadline, then you are not eligible to vote in this election. You can pick up a registration card from your local post office or you can register online.
You should receive a Voter Registration Certificate within 30 days. On Election Day, please bring your certificate to your local polling place if you have it. However, all that is required is a valid form of photo ID.
Because Burnet CISD actually covers portions of Burnet County, Williamson County and Llano County the ballots will look different between the counties. Because November 4 is a general election, the ballots will be lengthy. In Burnet County the ballot is seven pages long and the Burnet CISD Bond Proposition No. 1 is the last item on the ballot. The language for the Burnet CISD Bond Proposition No. 1 is:
“The issuance of $26, 750,000 of bonds by Burnet Consolidated Independent School District for the acquisition, construction, renovation, and equipment of school buildings and the purchase of school buses and levying the tax in payment thereof.”
If you would like to view a sample Burnet County ballot, please click the link below.
The two major projected projects at Bulldog Field include removing the natural grass playing surface in order to install a new synthetic turf field and replacing the existing track and runways with a new eight lane track. The District administration and the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) recommended to the Board to install synthetic turf in order to expand the availability of the field for use by students and organizations. Currently, because of wear and tear on natural turf, the field is limited to approximately 48 events a year and requires approximately 604 labor hours a year to maintain. With the installation of synthetic turf, the District would not have to limit the use of the field and could conceivable host an event every day of the year. The labor hours to maintain the field would drop to approximately 52 hours a year. This proposal doesn’t just impact football, but rather also expands options for other groups like the band, Highlandettes, baseball and elementary campuses utilizing the field for special events. It would also allow the District to expand sports offerings like soccer.
Another important consideration for the committee when making the recommendation to the Board regarding turf was the fact that the installation of synthetic turf would save approximately one million gallons of water annually. During a time in which the LCRA has been working aggressively to conserve water and considers the prospects for immediate relief from the record-breaking drought bleak, the committee felt this was an important consideration.
In addition to the turf, the CAC recommended replacing the current seven lane track. After seeing pictures of the track, and hearing from the current Athletic Director and former Athletic Director about the conditions of the track, the CAC agreed that the track should be replaced. They also recommended that the track be expanded from seven lanes to eight lanes at an additional cost of approximately $25,000. The replacing of the track would allow the District to host district track meets. The expansion to eight lanes would allow the District to host area track meets.
When considering both the turf and track, these renovations would allow the District to rent out the stadium for events like football playoff games, band competitions and track meets- opportunities that are not available to us today given the current condition of the track and field. This means rental fees for the District and visitors spending time at local restaurants and merchants.
The 2013-14 fiscal year revenue from all athletic events was $136,515. 2013-14 expenditures for all athletic programs were $795,733. The District’s costs far exceed revenue generated at the gate. Expenses include coaching stipends, trainers, officials, game workers, equipment, uniforms, supplies, etc.
One of the challenges that Burnet CISD faces, like all school districts across the state, is that 85% of the District’s $25 million operating budget is accounted for through staff salaries, utilities and transportation costs. When 85% of the operating budget is accounted for through these three areas alone (not including campus or departmental budgets), that leaves the District little discretionary funds (approximately $3.75 million) to address major renovations or maintenance issues, especially when considering that one roof replacement can cost over $1 million.
With the passage of the bond, current plans are to expand Shady Grove Elementary and move students (Grades PK-2) from Burnet Elementary (one of the District’s oldest campuses) to Shady Grove Elementary (one of the District’s newest campuses). This plan is more cost effective than renovating Burnet Elementary. The estimated cost projection to renovate Shady Grove Elementary is $10.6 million. The estimated cost projection to renovate Burnet Elementary is $16.6 million. The plan would be to then utilize the administration building at Burnet Elementary to house Quest High School, the District’s alternative high school. The rest of Burnet Elementary would remain closed until such time as student enrollment would necessitate its use.
The bond ballot language states the, “acquisition, construction, renovation and equipment of school buildings and the purchases of school buses.” The District has communicated its plans to complete all projects that have been listed in the informational material concerning the bond. The biggest risks when renovating an area are inflationary cost factors or finding something unexpected once you begin to tear out ceilings or walls. Even with that, the budget for each project has contingency funds available to address the unexpected. Although not anticipated, if an unknown factor caused one of the projects to not be completed or change significantly as proposed, then the District would go back to the Community Advisory Committee for input before making a recommendation to the Board of Trustees.
The major factor in place to ensure that bond funds go toward the projects that have been identified is transparency. The District has been very transparent in the development of the bond and in providing information about the final composition of the proposition. The District will continue to be transparent in providing updates on all projects that have been listed as part of the bond. The community will know when projects have been started and completed.
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