Pasadena ISD Bond Election       Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a school bond?

A school bond is similar to a home mortgage. It is a contract to repay borrowed money with a low-cost interest rate over time. Just as it is with a home, long-term financing is critical in the construction of school facilities.

What is the total cost of the districtís building plan?

The approved plan will cost $299.88 million.

Why do we need a school bond election?

The student enrollment growth spurred by new housing developments in south Pasadena, the corridor between State Highway 3 and I-45 and the South Belt area of the district has averaged approximately 1,400-1,500 students over the past two years. Demographic projections show that the district could experience a growth rate greater than 2,000 students per year or more for the next five years if housing development continues. The new growth hits strongest at the elementary and intermediate schools, but the bubble will have a dramatic impact on high school enrollment within the next 3-5 years as these students move through each grade level. Among the largest districts in Texas, Pasadena ISD is ranked as the eighth fastest growing district among the largest school districts in Texas. Over the past three years, Pasadena ISD has experienced an almost 10 percent gain in student enrollment.

In addition to the growth, the district has a number of facilities which are more than 50 years old. They are not fully equipment for the instructional programs needed to meet the needs of todayís child. The older buildings cannot handle some of the new technology used to education a 21st century student.

The district continues to use its fund balance or savings account for short term or minor building projects. Given todayís construction costs and the needs of the district, a long-term bond is the only viable financial solution.

How were the needs determined?

An independent firm conducted a district wide facility assessment in 2003, outlining the short and long-term facility needs. The assessment suggested a number of renovation projects and identified campuses which they felt needed to be replaced to keep from "pouring good money after bad." In other words, several campuses would have cost almost as much to repair as it would to replace.

Once the assessment was complete, the Superintendent organized a committee of 80 individuals representing every school and area in the district to review the assessment and to look at the student enrollment growth. The committee was asked to share the thoughts with friends and neighbors to gather additional feedback from the community. The committee used this information to make a recommendation for future facility needs. The recommendation was then discussed with principals and teachers to get additional feedback before presentation to the Board of Trustees for a final decision on the facility plan that has been presented.

You mentioned student enrollment growth. What is the current student enrollment and what are your projected numbers? Peak enrollment in 2003-04 reached 46,190 students. Projections based on independent demographic studies and analysis of home and apartment developments indicate at potential enrollment of 59,000 by 2008, if current trends continue.

Can the bond money be used to hire more teachers and give our current teachers higher salaries?

No. Bond funds cannot be used to pay for salaries or new personnel. By law, bond funds can only be spent on new buildings, renovations, technology and buses.

How will the district pay for the new teachers and staff once the buildings are built?

The districtís regular operating budget pays for staff, salaries and the day to day operating expenses. The district must comply with applicable student/teacher ratios required by the Texas Education Agency. As student enrollment and property values increase, revenue will generally increase enough to pay for the additional staffing. The district has spread out the construction over a five-year period to better absorb the additional operational costs.

How long will it take to complete all the bond projects?

The district will complete the building program over the next five years starting in the areas of most critical growth. The District intends to complete the program by 2008-09 when growth projections are at their highest. The building program will address our student enrollment growth and enable us to implement the middle school concept. The various parts of the plan will also address campus safety and security.

How much is being spent under to proposal for new construction and renovation in each area of the district?

City of Pasadena - $138.38 million

South Houston/Old Galveston Road Corridor - $36.2 million

South Belt - $75.2 million

Will the bond issue increase my taxes if I am 65 years of age or older or disabled?

No. If you are a senior citizen receiving the "over-65 exemption," or an individual who has a disability, your tax payment on your home will not change as a result of the bond program. The Texas Constitution, Article VIII, Section I-d, provides for persons 65 years of age or older who have a homestead exemption to be exempt from all tax rate increases and changes in taxable value unless new improvements are made to the home. If you currently do not have an exemption for which you may be qualified, you may want to contact the Harris County Appraisal District.

If the voters approve the package, how will my tax rate be affected?

The state has assisted property poor school districts like Pasadena in the past by providing money to offset the cost of bonds. All indications are that the district will continue receiving the funds. By law, however, the voters must approve the bond issue before the state will let us know if the district is eligible to receive state assistance. The cost of the $299.88 million bond program will be a maximum of three cents per $100 in property valuation if the district receives state aid it expects.

Three cents on the tax rate is approximately 75 cents per month for a home valued at $50,000 or a $1.88 per month for a home valued at $100,000.

What are Pasadena ISDís administrative costs?

The state now closely tracks administrative costs in all districts in Texas by setting a standard cost depending on the size of the district. Pasadena ISD is approximately $6 million below the state standard in administrative costs.

Why doesnít the district continue to use fund balance for its building needs?

Pay-as-you-go is similar to an individual paying cash for a home or major room addition. Most people canít afford to do that so they take out a mortgage to make the new home or renovation affordable. Pay-as-you-go works well for small emergencies and routine maintenance. In recent years, the district built Golden Acres Elementary School using fund balance. However, state law prohibits districts from awarding construction bids without cash on hand to cover the entire cost of the project or projects. Pasadena ISD maintains approximately 12 percent of its annual budget in fund balance under Texas Education Agency guidelines and board resolution. In addition, lending agencies require a healthy fund balance in order for the district to maintain its excellent Aa credit rating. The Aa rating allows the district to borrow funds at a lower interest rate, saving taxpayers millions of dollars over the life of the bond.

The districtís fund balance simply isnít enough to pay for the identified needs. A single elementary school is projected to cost $13.8 million. The new schools are needed over the next four-five years to house the rising number of students.

Will the addition at Dobie add to the traffic problems along Blackhawk?

Yes, to a degree during certain times of the day. Traffic will always be an issue around any school for the drop off and pick up times. The district built an extended drop-off lane at Moore Elementary and widened the streets leading into Dobie. This has improved the flow of traffic significantly. The district has also added bus routes to give parents more options. These steps have reduced the time it takes to get to school to an average of 10-15 minutes.

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